a car driving next to a truck in rainy weather that is one of the causes of trucking accidents

Causes of Trucking Accidents

What are the causes of trucking accidents? Commercial trucks such as tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, and delivery trucks pose a unique danger to passenger vehicles. Not only do the drivers of these trucks need to be highly trained and aware of these dangers, but other drivers also need to take precautions in their presence. What would seem like a minor error, such as failing to signal when turning, could result in a catastrophic crash with one of these massive vehicles.

In Alabama alone, there were 8,937 truck crashes in 2016, the year of the most recent data available from the state. This is a 54% increase from just five years prior. The fatality rate is also up 74% over five years, with 157 people losing their lives in truck crashes in 2016.


Causes of Trucking Accidents

The reason trucking accidents are so deadly is because of the size and weight of the vehicles. A fully-loaded tractor-trailer can weigh 80,000 pounds, and a 5,000-pound passenger vehicle is no match for one of these giants that is suddenly out of control on the road. These are dangerous crashes that can happen in a variety of ways and can be caused by several forms of negligence or carelessness.

Driver Error

The most common causes of trucking accidents are some kind of driver error. There are many mistakes that drivers can make which can lead to dangerous and deadly crashes. These include:

  • Drowsy driving or driving under the influence
  • Distracted driving
  • Driving aggressively or too fast for conditions
  • Following other vehicles too closely
  • Frequent lane changes
  • Improper turning
  • Not obeying the rules of the road
  • Failure to check blind spots


Poor Vehicle Maintenance

A commercial truck can drive thousands of miles in a single day. This adds up over several weeks and months, putting immense wear and tear on a vehicle. To keep up with this, drivers, trucking companies, and maintenance operations need to take measures to regularly maintain their fleet.

Failed equipment such as a cracked windshield or worn brake pads can lead to a major crash on the road. The truck driver is responsible for checking their rig before each driving shift. If they don’t do this or fail to maintain their equipment, they could be liable for an accident. Poor vehicle maintenance and failed equipment are causes of trucking accidents.

Equipment Failure

Failing to maintain a truck isn’t the only cause of equipment failure. Sometimes a critical piece of a truck’s equipment has a defect or was installed incorrectly. If it fails while a truck is at speed, the results could be fatal.

Some of the parties that could be held responsible in one of these situations include the designer or maker of the part. Other possibilities are the truck manufacturer, the installer, or the company that sold the truck.

Road Hazards

When there is something in the road that isn’t supposed to be there, this can create dangerous conditions. Most states and municipalities conduct road improvement projects, but they have a duty to clearly mark any changes in the terrain or upcoming lanes. If there is a failure to do this and a road hazard causes a trucking accident, those road crews could be held responsible.

Inclement Weather

Bad weather is a trucker’s nightmare. It slows down traffic and progress and limits visibility. Unfortunately, it is also one of the common causes of trucking accidents. When a truck is driving too fast for conditions, this can lead to jackknifing, hydroplaning, and skidding.

Improper Cargo Loading

There are industry-specific rules for loading cargo on commercial trucks. If these aren’t followed or if mistakes are made, a load can fall into the road or cause a truck to tip over, resulting in serious injury.

Speak with a Montgomery Truck Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one have been involved in a collision with a truck, finding the right truck accident attorney can save you time, stress, and money. Your attorney should have a proven record of aggressively pursuing the responsible parties in truck accident cases and have the resources to fully investigate the circumstances of your crash.

At McPhillips Shinbaum, LLC, we have built a reputation for helping clients achieve favorable outcomes in personal injury cases. We will be your staunch legal advocates as we fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact our Montgomery office now at 334.262.1911 or reach us online to schedule a free consultation.

a car driving next to a truck in rainy weather that is one of the causes of trucking accidents

Commercial Truck Accidents and Weather Conditions

Anyone who has driven on a day where there is rain, hail, severe wind, or snow or ice knows that adverse weather conditions can definitely have an effect on vehicle performance. Indeed, when weather conditions are poor, it may be harder to see due to impaired visibility, and a vehicle may be harder to control or stop.

This same phenomenon, difficulty controlling a vehicle and driving safely when weather conditions are adverse, is not only true for drivers of commercial trucks, but heightened. Large trucks can weigh up to 20 times more than the standard passenger car, and can be even more difficult to stop and control, even when weather conditions are ideal. These factors make commercial truck accidents all the more devastating.

How Weather Conditions Affect Driving and the Risk of Commercial Truck Accidents

Information published by the U.S. Department of Transportation – Federal Highway Administration, provides a detailed look at the effect that certain weather conditions can have on roads, traffic, and vehicle maneuverability. Consider the following effects of weather, according to the data:

  • Wind. Wind may affect visibility distance, cause lane obstructions, affect traffic speed, increase accident risk, and impact vehicle stability and performance.
  • Precipitation. Precipitation can be a more dangerous type of weather condition, affecting visibility distance, pavement friction, roadway capacity, accident risk, travel speed, traffic, traction, and more. If water accumulates, the water level can also affect safety and accident risk.
  • Fog. The biggest risk of fog is that it can negatively impact visibility. However, in addition to visibility, fog can also impact traffic speed, driver capabilities and behavior, and accident risk.
  • Road temperature. When we think of risky weather, the above types are the most common that come to mind, but pavement temperatures can cause infrastructure damage that increases the chances of a crash and should not be overlooked as a potential risk.

The same source cited above also stated that on average, about 22 percent of crashes (of all motor vehicles, not just commercial trucks) are weather-related. Further, there are about 6,000 people killed in weather-related crashes every year.

Another study published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration analyzed causation factors for large truck crashes that occurred throughout the country over a period of approximately 2.5 years. Of the crashes recorded, investigation shows that nearly 5 percent of large truck crashes were caused by environmental factors, including adverse weather conditions.

Is Weather Always to Blame for Commercial Truck Accidents?

The statistics above show that weather can certainly increase the risk of a crash, and that commercial trucks may be harder to navigate when adverse weather conditions are present. Furthermore, one can assume that there are likely times when poor weather is the direct cause of commercial truck accidents and that drivers involved have little control or influence over an accident’s occurrence.

But bad weather does not mean that a crash is inevitable. In fact, when bad weather strikes, the thing that causes an accident is almost always the actions of the driver of the motor vehicle involved, not the weather itself. When adverse weather conditions are present, drivers are tasked with the duty of operating commercial vehicles with a heightened sense of care, which may mean slowing speeds, taking an alternate route, taking turns with more caution, or even ceasing operation until adverse weather conditions clear.

Working with an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer in Alabama after a Crash

If you have been involved in a commercial truck accident while driving in adverse weather conditions, you may be wondering whether or not you can bring a claim against the trucking company, or if weather–an uncontrollable phenomenon–was to blame. While it is true that weather can increase the risk of a crash and make vehicles more difficult to control, if a truck driver acted negligently, such as driving at a speed that was unsafe for conditions, you still have a cause of action and a right to recover damages.

To learn more about how to bring forth a claim and recover damages for your harm, or the harm of a loved one, after a commercial truck crash, contact our Montgomery truck accident lawyers at the law offices of McPhillips Shinbaum, LLP for a free consultation today. We can be reached at (334) 262-1911 or through our website contact form.


Tractor Trailer

Woman Dies in Accident with Tractor Trailer

A woman has died after colliding with a semi. Lashunda Patrice Wells, 38, of Tuscaloosa, was driving on Interstate 65 near Hayden, Alabama, in Blount County on July 1st. For reasons not yet reported, Wells lost control of her 2005 Nissan Altima. The Altima struck a metal guard rail, bouncing back into traffic. When the car returned to the lanes of traffic, it was struck by a 2005 Peterbilt tractor trailer, as driven by Rick Griesbach, of Westborough, Wisconsin. The Altima then came to rest on the center concrete median. Wells was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. Griesbach was uninjured.

Tractor-trailers and semi trucks can be highly lethal presences on roads and highways. While many professional truckers are experienced and skilled at what they do, there is simply more risk of harm involved should anything go wrong on the road either with or near a large truck. Tractor-trailers require almost 150% as long to come to a complete stop when traveling at highway speeds than would a passenger vehicle. Factors such as weather conditions can also come into play, as can any excessive wear-and-tear on the truck’s tires. Where a passenger vehicle may have been able to swerve around a car that quickly merged into traffic, tractor trailers bear a much greater risk of jackknifing or overturning, due to the weight of cargo in the trailer. Thus, attempting to avoid a hazard in the road could result in even more damage than simply colliding with the car or object immediately in front of a tractor trailer.

Accidents with tractor trailers or other large trucks can be highly destructive. Due to the number of components that can fail on a large truck, and the various parties that may be involved in maintaining, operating, and owning a tractor trailer, legal and factual issues involved in an accident with a tractor trailer can be convoluted and hard to keep straight. If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident with a semi truck or tractor trailer, seek experienced legal help to determine if you may be owed compensation for your injuries in the crash. Contact the skilled Montgomery, Alabama personal injury attorneys at McPhillips Shinbaum to discuss your options. Our truck accident attorneys are available to offer a free consultation on a possible claim for individuals based in and around Montgomery, including Coosada, Pike Road, Deatsville, Lapine, and Titus. Call 334-262-1911 today.

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Two Teenagers Die In Collision With Large Truck

A West Alabama football player died in an automobile accident over the Labor Day holiday weekend. Nineteen-year-old Anthony Robinson was traveling with his 12-year-old cousin on Highway 43 near Robinson’s hometown of Linden, Alabama when both were killed in a collision with an 18-wheeler.

In 2009, large trucks logged nearly three billion miles and caused nearly four thousand deaths. Even after 10 years of decline, large trucks still killed 73 Alabamans in 2009. Fully loaded trucks are simply so huge that they are very difficult, if not impossible, to stop suddenly. Some of the serious or mortal injuries that may result from collisions between a large truck and a passenger car or light tuck include:

  • Burns. If the large truck’s diesel fuel happens to catch fire, the fire can be much hotter and much more intense than a gasoline fire. Severe burns can mean a series of painful skin grafts. Many patients do not survive this procedure. Even if they do survive, there may be permanent disfiguring scars and other permanent injuries.
  • Crushed body parts. Because a large truck has such a hard time stopping, it frequently pushes the other vehicle like a snow plow until both vehicles come to rest against a bridge or embankment, or some other hard and unforgiving surface. By the time the first responders arrive and free the trapped occupants, their legs or arms may have been crushed by the car as it collapsed around them.
  • Severe trauma injuries. Even if the occupants are wearing seat belts and the air bags properly deploy, the sudden force of the impact can frequently cause head, neck and spinal injuries.

The attorneys at McPhillips Shinbaum conduct their business according to one guiding principle: dignity. That commitment means that our attorneys always treat you with the respect you deserve, whether that means promptly returning your phone calls or being as prepared as we can possibly be before we go into court. Contact McPhillips Shinbaum to schedule your free consultation.

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Truck Accidents and Their Causes

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates that there are more than 3,000 fatal crashes and 100,000 other crashes involving large trucks in the United States each year. Considering the huge number of trucks on the roads transporting needed goods throughout the country, a significant number of accidents are inevitable. Nonetheless, an awareness of the common causes of truck accidents can help us to avoid them.

The FMCSA conducted an important study in 2007 on truck safety which emphasized a number of factors that are still helpful today:

  • Driver exhaustion. With pressure to make deadlines, driving drowsy is more common among truck drivers than other drivers. Given the size and weight of a large truck, the danger is magnified.
  • Truck driver error. Though many trucks have signs communicating that their drivers have limited visibility on the side, many car drivers do not realize this. Truck drivers often cannot see other drivers making common driving techniques are more difficult, leading to more mistakes.
  • Error by other drivers. When a car driver stops short, swerves, or does something dangerous on the road, another car may be able to avoid the hazard. Because of its size, a truck is much slower to respond and is therefore more likely to crash in these situations.
  • Drug use. Two of the top ten factors cited by the FMCSA involved prescription and over-the-counter drug use. The long hours of a truck driver’s lifestyle often lead to a lack of exercise and an intake of unhealthy food. Many truck drivers suffer from obesity and other health related ailments. The medications they take to treat these ailments are a significant risk factor in trucking accidents, along with illegal substances taken to keep them awake and driving when they should be resting.

If you have been in an accident involving a truck, contact us for a consultation and review of your case to see how we can help get you the compensation you deserve.