Truck Driver Error a Factor in Many Truck Accidents

Driver safety, courtesy and following the rules of the road are all integral components to keeping our roads safe for all. Although there are many truck drivers who do drive safely, truck driver error was found to be a significant cause of truck crashes by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Truck driver error that leads to crashes can come in many forms, including driver fatigue, distracted driving, substance abuse and unsafe driving. We see truck drivers speeding down highways every day while talking on cell phones and some even texting.

If a driver is fatigued, engrossed in a cellphone conversation, or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the chance of a truck crash increases. These reckless behaviors may lead them to speed, drift in and out of lanes, not use signals and follow other vehicles too closely.

FMCSA Safety Measurement System – Explained

The FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) was instituted to evaluate driver safety performance to develop a relationship between crashes and future crash risk. Some of the truck driver behaviors looked at include:

  • Unsafe truck driving
  • Hours-of-Service compliance
  • Truck driver fitness
  • Use of controlled substances and alcohol
  • Vehicle maintenance
  • Hazardous materials compliance
  • Truck crash indicator – histories or patterns of high crash involvement

The FMCSA’s study highlighted many factors that contributed to a crash and found that, for drivers, past crash involvement is a good predictor of future crashes. The FMCS concluded that a number of truck driver behaviors are statistically significant predictors of future crashes, especially failure to use or improper use of signals, involvement in a prior crash and improper passing.

The SMS findings coincide with information found in the NHTSA 2013 Large Truck Safety Facts that reported large-truck drivers have the highest percentage of previously recorded crashes compared with drivers of other vehicles. The large size and weight of trucks in comparison to passenger vehicles can mean truck driver error can have devastating consequences. If a driver is distracted or following a vehicle too closely, he or she may not be able to slow a loaded tractor-trailer in time to avoid a collision. The NHTSA reported that of the fatal crashes involving large trucks in 2013, 71% of the fatalities were occupants of other vehicles and 80% of the fatal crashes involving large trucks were multiple-vehicle crashes.

Fatal Truck Accidents – Statistics

Most fatal large truck crashes in the United States occur in the east, including a high concentration in the state of Pennsylvania. According to FMCSA, approximately 68% of the freight shipped within the U.S. is shipped by truck and there are more than 10 million large trucks registered in the U.S. Approximately 3 million roadside truck inspections are done in the U.S. each year in varying levels, from a full inspection to just a walk around or a driver inspection. The most frequent violations in roadside inspections in 2013 include driver beyond 14-hour duty period, false report of driver’s record of duty status, no record of duty status, and driving beyond 11-hour driving limit in a 14-hour period. Another frequent citation was truck drivers operating a truck without a commercial driver’s license.

Earlier this year, the FMCSA announced a new Smartphone App that provides safety data on interstate commercial truck and bus companies. Called “QCMobile,” the new App will be quite useful for those interested in reviewing the USDOT safety performance information of motor carriers and the safety record of the truck driver.

At Fellerman & Ciarimboli, we are concerned with driver and passenger safety in the state of Pennsylvania and throughout the entire country. Our roads will be much safer with a greater focus on truck driver error and institute methods to help prevent those continued errors. Safety is always our top priority. If you have been injured in a truck crash, we can help.  For a free consultation, call truck injury lawyers in Philadelphia at 215-575-9237 or talk to a lawyer in Wilkes-Barre at 570-714-HURT.

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With more than 40 years of combined experience, the personal injury attorneys at Fellerman & Ciarimboli strive to provide the best service to clients in Philadelphia, Northeast Pennsylvania, and throughout the Keystone State.

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