Anyone can cause a car crash, but those who spend more time at the wheel are more likely to cause big wrecks. Commercial truck drivers may spend more than eight hours at the wheel every day that they go to work, meaning they have more time on the road and possibly more risk for involvement in a crash.
Federal crash data about commercial trucks exposes several trends that the average driver needs to know about. Commercial truck drivers are responsible for more than half of the collisions that involve these big vehicles. When the commercial vehicle is the one at fault for the wreck, 87% of the time it is the driver’s fault.
Looking at the top three reasons commercial drivers cause crashes could help you understand better how to safely share the road with semitrucks.
The top driver issue involves making the wrong decisions
In 38% of the collisions caused by commercial trucks, it is the decision of the driver that ultimately causes a crash. They made driving choices that were not appropriate given the materials they had to haul or the weather conditions. Following a vehicle too closely or traveling at too high of a speed are among some of the noteworthy decision-related mistakes that cause commercial crashes.
The second leading issue involves distraction
28% of commercial vehicle collisions caused by the big vehicle are the result of a recognition error. In other words, the driver didn’t notice something in traffic in time to respond appropriately. Such mistakes have a strong association with distractions or being inattentive. Whether the driver has a cheeseburger or their phone in their hands, they might not respond to changes in traffic in time.
Health issues are the third leading cause
The third most common reason that a commercial trucker causes a crash is non-performance. In roughly 12% of these collisions, the crash occurred because the driver was not able to respond. They may have fallen asleep at the wheel because of exhaustion or suffered a stroke that left them unconscious or unable to manage the vehicle. Heart attacks, seizures and other sudden medical events can cause non-performance collisions.
Giving trucks plenty of space, remaining aware of them in traffic and carefully signaling maneuvers to others before you turn, merge or pass can reduce your risk of experiencing a commercial vehicle collision.