The vast majority of motor vehicle collisions occur because of preventable driver mistakes. Someone exceeds the speed limit or runs a red light and ends up injuring other people. A snap decision or a bad habit of not complying fully with traffic laws can have damaging and expensive consequences.
That is as true for crashes involving commercial vehicles as it is for collisions between two passenger vehicles. Semi-truck drivers are human and can make mistakes regarding how they behave in traffic. However, when looking at a report from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) exploring the causes of major crashes, driver error is not the only issue.
There is little question that driver mistakes do account for the majority of crashes. The FMCSA reports that 87% of the crashes caused by semi-trucks involve an issue with the driver’s performance. Still, there are times when crashes occur due to factors outside of the driver’s control. Issues with the vehicle cause most of the other crashes involving semi-trucks.
Vehicle issues can quickly lead to a wreck
Semi-trucks have more complex systems than standard passenger vehicles and therefore have more opportunities for maintenance issues to cause a crash. According to the FMCSA reports analyzing collision causes, roughly 10% of the wrecks that semi-trucks cause occur because of an issue with the vehicle. The remaining 3% of crashes relate to environmental factors, like a sinkhole suddenly developing in the street.
Tire blowouts and brake failures are some of the more common reasons that semi-trucks cause collisions due to vehicle issues. Loading issues can also be a concern. If there is an uneven distribution of the weight inside the semi-truck or if there are objects that can move during transit, ranging from loose merchandise to fluids, the driver could potentially lose control of the vehicle due to no fault of their own when turning or going around a corner.
Vehicle issues with a semi-truck are often the responsibility of a commercial transportation company. The people affected by a crash may have grounds for an insurance claim or possibly even a lawsuit against the transportation company. Understanding who may technically be at fault for a crash is an important first step in the pursuit of compensation.