Tractor-trailer accidents in Louisiana and around the country claim thousands of lives and cause tens of thousands of injuries every year, and the overwhelming majority of them are caused by driver error. This was the conclusion reached by government researchers who studied 963 serious truck accidents that took place between 2001 and 2003. The results of the study were published in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Large Truck Crash Causation Study.
Speeding, impairment and distraction
More than eight out of 10 of the truck accidents studied involved tractor-trailers that either strayed out of their lanes, were traveling at unsafe speeds or failed to brake in time to avoid striking the rear of another vehicle. When the researchers checked accident reports to find out what caused the trucks to crash, they discovered that driver error was the primary reason a worrying 87% of the time. Almost 40% of the truck drivers crashed because they made poor decisions like misjudging stopping distances, following too closely or changing lanes without checking their mirrors. Not recognizing dangerous situations, distraction and fatigue caused 40% of the accidents studied.
Vehicle defects, the environment and drugs
FMCSA researchers noticed that vehicle problems like tire blowouts and environmental issues like treacherous weather conditions only play a major role in about 13% of serious truck accidents. The most common mechanical problem they found was a braking system failure of some kind. The report also reveals that over-the-counter drug use is a far more serious problem for truck drivers than alcohol consumption. Only 1% of the truck drivers involved in the accidents studied by the FMCSA were found to be under the influence of alcohol when they crashed, but over-the-counter medications that can cause drowsiness or inattention were discovered in 17% of their blood tests.
Compensation for truck accident victims
If you are injured in an accident involving a semi-tractor trailer, an experienced personal injury attorney could study the conclusions reached by crash investigators to determine whether negligence played a role. Truck accident reports may include details of mechanical problems discovered during vehicle inspections, the driver’s blood-test results, hours of service records and evidence gathered at the scene that could identify the cause of the crash.