Truck drivers are hauling all across the US, 24 hours out of every day. Driving a big truck is the most common profession in the nation: more than 3.5 million drivers are employed by various trucking companies.
Drivers see their fair share of accidents. Sometimes, they only witness them; other times, they’re the unhappy cause. Though truck drivers tend to be safe operators, given their long experience and a commercial driver’s license, plenty of accidents happen along the way.
When you’re a trucker, you don’t want to be the cause of a collision. Wrecks occur for many reasons, and sometimes multiple drivers may share the blame.
Knowing the most common causes of trucking accidents can help truckers make better decisions while they’re on the road. Here are the eight most common causes of trucking accidents and how you can avoid them.
Speeding is more common among truck drivers that get paid by the load rather than by the hour. The faster they can deliver a load, the more they’ll make per hour.
This is the main reason it’s not unusual to witness trucks speeding down the highway, zipping around slower-moving traffic as if their rig were a smaller car. This kind of reckless driving is a recipe for disaster.
2. Equipment Failure
A commercial truck covers hundreds of miles of road just about every single day. When you cover that much mileage, parts of your rig are bound to wear out and break down.
Trucking companies are responsible for inspecting and maintaining their fleet on a regular basis, but sometimes workers can be lazy about keeping track of equipment, or they might miss a detail. This can lead to equipment failure, and cause a major traffic incident.
Even something as simple as a cracked windshield could obstruct a driver’s view and result in a wreck.
3. Brake Malfunction
One common and terrifying equipment failure for truckers is a brake malfunction. Most trucks are designed with air brakes, which enable the rig to stop within 100 feet when it’s traveling at 35 mph.
Malfunctions make such a rapid stop unattainable, so a loaded vehicle may fail come to a halt in time to avoid a collision. There are truck run-offs along many highways, particularly those with steep downgrades, to reduce the chance of a runaway truck.
You should know where these run-offs are on your routes because they could help you avoid a potentially fatal crash.
4. Improper Cargo Loading
Trucking companies have a responsibility to load cargo properly into the trailer. Failure to do so can lead to various problems.
First, an uneven load can increase the likelihood that the truck will tip when it goes up a steep grade or turns sharply. Rollover or jackknifing accidents cause deadly pileups on busy highways.
Secondly, improper cargo loading can set up a falling debris incident. An open truck that isn’t packed correctly can lose debris that strikes other vehicles or obstructs the roadway, and that can cause a fatal event as well.
Most truckers don’t work a set schedule. They drive until they get tired and sleep when necessary. Often, a driver may push to deliver a payload by driving through the night.
The result is drowsy driving, which is regarded as just as dangerous as DWI. If you’re tired, pull over at a rest stop and resist returning to the road until you feel rested and alert enough to continue.
After long hours of driving, a trucker might presume it’s okay to have an occasional beer before getting behind the wheel. Other substances or cigarettes may be attractive as well, any of which can reduce the driver’s ability to focus while on the road.
This is never a safe practice, and it can cost a trucker his or her job. If you’re under the influence of any substance, you’d be wise to wait for it to leave your system before you climb into the cab and start up the engine.
Distracted driving has surpassed drunk driving as the number-one cause of fatal accidents in the US, and truckers are no exception. Any behavior that takes your focus away from the road qualifies as distracted driving.
The distractions can be cognitive, visual, or physical. They might involve a daydream or emotional distress in your personal life.
An obstruction on your windshield can distract you, or reaching to grab something you dropped is a dangerous distraction from the road. Texting is the most dangerous act of distracted driving because it involves all three forms of distraction (cognitive, visual, and physical). It causes the most wrecks today.
Truckers can be unusually subject to weather conditions, simply because they’re on the road rain or shine. Big rigs are more likely to hydroplane when they’re empty.
The varieties of weather that experienced truckers can drive through are many, so it’s essential to know when the roads are too bad for adequate, let alone safe, driving. You should always pull over to a secure location and wait it out when harsh weather reaches that level.