Large truck crashes, which take the lives of more than 3,600 Americans every year and seriously injure thousands more, are caused by a wide range of factors. Driver behavior, vehicle condition and even the weather all play a part in influencing trucking crashes throughout Nevada. Understanding some of the specific elements that are most commonly associated with truck accidents could help keep drivers, passengers and pedestrians safe.
Large Truck Crashes in Nevada
Large trucks are a necessity in today’s society. They transport goods to hundreds of Nevada hospitals, grocery stores, manufacturers and other businesses on a daily basis. In fact, approximately 80 percent of communities throughout the United States depend exclusively on the trucking industry to deliver their fuel, medicine and other necessities. In Nevada, about 92 percent of manufactured goods are transported by large trucks. Unfortunately, these massive vehicles are also extremely dangerous and sometimes even deadly. Since fully loaded trucks can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, they typically cause much more severe damage than other motor vehicles when involved in a crash. In 2012, large truck crashes resulted in 18 fatalities and hundreds of serious injuries in Nevada alone. These accidents were caused by a number of factors.
Although only about 3 percent of large truck crashes involve a trucker who is under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs, driver impairment is still a very real issue. The most common type of driver impairment a truck accident lawyer in Las Vegas comes across is not caused by the use alcohol or illegal drugs, but prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs instead. In fact, their use is associated with about 18 percent of all large truck crashes.
Driver fatigue is another type of impairment commonly seen in trucking accidents. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), approximately 13 percent of large truck crashes involve a driver who is excessively tired. Fatigued driving can result in slower reaction times, drifting between lanes, and even falling asleep at the wheel.
The FMCSA reports that a speeding truck is a factor in approximately 25 percent of large truck crashes, and 45 percent of large truck rollovers. Alarmingly, nearly 17 percent of truckers who are involved in an accident have a prior speeding conviction. Tight deadlines and the fact that truckers are paid by the number of miles they cover are common reasons that drivers speed. At 65 mph, a fully loaded large truck takes approximately 525 feet to come to a complete stop. That is almost the equivalent to the length of two football fields. At 55 mph, the stopping distance is reduced to 335 feet. Many trucks travel at speeds in excess of 75 mph on America’s roadways, making stopping in the event of an emergency nearly impossible.
Truck Equipment Failure
Nearly 30 percent of all large truck accidents involve some type of truck equipment failure. Manufacturing mistakes can cause issues like defective tires, absent or faulty warning devices, and other types of problems that can raise the risk for a crash. Failing to properly maintain a large truck, however, is the most common cause of equipment failure. Although truck drivers and trucking companies are required by the FMCSA to perform pre-trip inspections as well as regular maintenance and additional inspections throughout the year, these regulations are often ignored. Common types of truck equipment failure that result in an increased crash risk include:
- Brake failure
- Defective or worn tires
- Malfunctioning side or rear lighting
- Steering problems
- Faulty trailer attachments
Proper loading and load securement regulations are outlined in the FMCSA driver’s handbook. Unfortunately, these rules are not always followed and large truck accidents are a result. Ensuring that each load is properly positioned, within weight limits, and adequately secured is the responsibility of loaders, truckers and trucking companies alike. When these individuals are negligent, overweight or unstable trucks and shifting loads become a recipe for disaster.
- When loads are not adequately tied down or otherwise secured on open trailers, even a slight bump or turn can result in the load shifting or even coming loose, potentially causing a large truck crash.
- Overweight loads can cause truck equipment failure, roadway damage, and accidents.
- Loads that are not distributed correctly can put too much weight on one axle or become top heavy, resulting in equipment failure or even a rollover crash.
According to the FMCSA, an alarming 87 percent of large truck accidents are caused by truck driver error. An overwhelming shortage of qualified truck drivers in the United States has resulted in the accumulation of truckers who are inexperienced, overworked, and unfamiliar with their routes. Approximately 38 percent of large truck crashes involve a trucker whose decision making skills were a factor.