Truckers spend at least eight hours per day on the road, although some will drive even more. As such, they are typically experienced and careful. However, mistakes happen, and there are some ways of driving that are more likely to result in accidents than others.
Here are the top five.
1. Reckless Driving
Reckless driving is a common cause of accidents for all types of vehicles on the road, but the results of reckless driving in truck accidents are typically far more catastrophic. According to a Baltimore law firm, reckless driving includes the following:
- Violating traffic laws such as running stop signs or traffic lights
- Failing to use turn signals and yield the right of way
- Drunk driving
- Texting while driving
- Distracted driving such as eating while driving or fatigued driving
- Improper lane usage
Large trucks that execute any form of reckless driving can cause problems in traffic, particularly when smaller cars and pedestrians are on the road.
2. Driver Fatigue
Overworked drivers are reckless, unsafe drivers. Some studies show that fatigue on the road is as dangerous, if not more so, than driving under the influence. Cognitive function is impaired beyond reason when you’re tired and getting behind the wheel impairs your ability to make decisions, react, and stay within your lane.
Most labor unions have laws that drivers are not allowed to be on the road for more than 8 hours. In some states, there are major fines for truck drivers that drive over the legal limit.
However, truck drivers racing a deadline may not adhere to this requirement because they’re paid by the truck load rather than the hour. As such, they might pull a 16-hour or more day in order to get as many loads done in a week as possible and maximize the payload.
3. Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is categorized as anything that takes your attention away from the road. It could be eating, talking to a passenger, playing with the radio, or rummaging around in your glove compartment, but most distracted driving cases involve a cell phone.
Talking on the phone is just one piece of the picture because it takes your cognitive attention and at least one hand away from the wheel. The bigger piece is texting, checking emails, scrolling through social media, and web surfing.
If you read a text while driving, your eyes are off the road for about five seconds. If you’re driving 55 mph, a standard speed for trucks, you’ll travel the length of a football field without seeing the road during that time.
4. Mechanical Failure
Sometimes, the fault of an accident does not lie with the driver but with the vehicle itself. A vehicle that big often has many mechanical issues that can ultimately cause an accident.
Faulty brake equipment is one of the most common and dangerous issues. There may also be unsecured cargo space, improperly balanced loads, unsafe tires, and problems with the computer system.
Maintenance is usually a top priority for companies with large fleets, but accidents can still happen. Additionally, independent truck owners and operators may not put as much emphasis on maintenance, which can lead to accidents on the road.
5. Inadequate Skill
It’s not easy driving large commercial trucks, particularly on crowded streets or in heavy traffic. The barrier of entry is low for truck drivers, and far too many individuals are granted a CDL without adequate training or skill. Additionally, it takes years and good instincts to develop the skills necessary to react properly and avoid accidents on the road.
Some truck drivers are not only inadequate at driving their big rigs, but they’re also unqualified. They may not have their CDL or may have failed to renew their license, leading to mistakes made by the uneducated and unprepared drivers. This is a dangerous and illegal practice that happens all too often in the trucking industry.