Frequently Asked Questions About Big Truck Accidents

Jul 6, 2022 | Big Truck Accidents, Blog

According to date tracked by the National Safety Council, 4,965 people died in large-truck crashes across America in 2020. That’s an increase in truck-related fatalities by almost a third over the past decade and represents more than ten percent of all traffic deaths. Lawmakers, industry experts, and others have expressed concern about the disturbing upward trend and are seeking solutions. Here are some important questions and answers about what causes big-rig crashes and how to avoid them.

Why are big-truck crashes more dangerous than other accidents?

It’s a simple matter of physics. Big rigs are 20-30 times heavier than passenger cars, with much greater ground clearance, which can result in smaller cars getting the brunt of the impact and being dragged under the truck. In two-vehicle crashes involving a large truck and a passenger car, close to seventy percent of those seriously injured or killed were occupants of the car.

What’s the reason the number of fatal crashes has increased so much over the past decade?

For many years, increased regulation and tougher industry requirements were credited with playing a significant role in reducing the number and severity of truck accidents; by 2009, the mortality figures were less than half of what they’d been 30 years earlier. But several factors may have played a part in the subsequent increase in fatal crashes, including more trucks on the road, driving millions of more miles each year. Today’s big rigs have more built-in safety features than ever before, but driver shortages, aging fleets, inadequate training and other industry woes have also contributed to the problem.

What are the most common causes of truck accidents?

Studies indicate that at least one “driver-related factor” shows up in roughly a third of all large-truck fatal crashes. Speeding is the most commonly cited risky behavior. Distracted driving is pretty common, too; more than half of all fatal truck crashes occur in rural areas, where drivers are likely to become distracted or inattentive after hours of traveling largely empty roads. Impairment, from drug or alcohol use or simple fatigue, may be greatly underestimated but still shows up as a factor in one out of every seven truck crashes.

But driver error isn’t the only culprit. Weather and road conditions, defective equipment or mechanical failure can play a part; tire defects alone are said to be responsible for a third of all truck-related crashes. In other instances, unbalanced or excessive loads could be involved, too. And, of course, some crashes are caused by the behavior of other drivers.

Can the trucking company be held responsible for a truck crash?

Liability depends on the individual circumstances. For example, if the company was negligent in its hiring or training procedures, or it failed to address important maintenance or repair issues for its vehicles, or encouraged drivers to ignore federally established hour-of-service limits, it may well share the blame for subsequent crashes. An experienced truck accident attorney can provide more guidance on this often complicated question.

What steps should be taken to avoid a truck crash?

Trucks of all kinds should be approached with care in any traffic situation, whether it’s a delivery van in your neighborhood or an 18-wheeler on the highway. Too often, drivers of passenger cars don’t make allowances for the fundamental differences in the way trucks operate, from braking capability (a loaded tractor-trailer can take up to 40 percent longer than a car to stop) to general maneuverability. Give truckers a wide berth, and don’t lurk in the “no-see zone,” the areas beside or behind or a truck where the driver has little or no visibility. Don’t change lanes abruptly in front of a truck, and don’t underestimate the speed (or overestimate the braking ability) of an oncoming rig when turning left at an intersection. Share the road, and everybody has a better chance of getting home safely.


If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a tractor-trailer, semi-truck, or other commercial vehicle, Franklin D. Azar & Associates can help. Our track record over thirty years of representing seriously injured people has helped us to grow into the largest personal injury law firm in Colorado, with offices in Denver, Aurora, Greenwood Village, Fort Collins, Thornton, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo. We have experienced truck accident lawyers ready to review your case with you, and we have the dedication to represent your interests and get you the compensation you deserve. Call us at 800-716-9032 or contact us here for a free, no-obligation consultation and evaluation of your case.