In general, commercial transportation companies have an interest in minimizing the collision risk between semi-trucks and smaller vehicles. Higher crash rates tend to push lawmakers to create more restrictions on the industry, which can make it more expensive to operate a transportation business. Additionally, transportation companies often provide the insurance coverage that pays for such crashes and they may face lawsuits after their drivers cause wrecks.
Despite how damaging and expensive semi-truck crashes can be for commercial transportation firms, they often make operational decisions that increase collision risk. These are the top three ways that transportation companies too often contribute to the likelihood of semi-truck collisions.
Poor fleet maintenance
One of the top ways that commercial trucking companies contribute to crash rates is by cutting corners when maintaining their vehicles. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates that roughly 10% of the collisions caused by commercial vehicles are the results of an issue with the semi-truck. Bad brakes, balding tires and other maintenance issues can cause preventable collisions and open companies up to lawsuits.
High-pressure employment practices
Many trucking companies offer higher pay or bonuses for on-time load delivery. Others may write up or penalize drivers who miss certain deadlines regardless of the factors that caused the delay. Both of those approaches may push truck drivers to speed or stay at the wheel for longer than they should under hours-of-service rules. Requirements that workers respond to employer or client emails, phone calls and text messages can also lead to preventable collisions.
Substandard hiring practices
There is currently more demand for skilled commercial drivers than there are licensed professionals to haul loads. Some companies end up hiring new drivers or those who just barely retain their eligibility after a history of issues at the wheel. Companies that don’t provide enough training or maintain high enough standards for new drivers may put others at risk for the sake of expedience.
In scenarios where those who have been affected by a semi-truck crash can credibly claim that a transportation company was responsible for the accident because of negligent or illegal business practices, they may have grounds for an insurance claim or possibly a lawsuit. Accurately establishing who is at fault for a semi-truck crash is often the first step toward pursuing justice.