The California economy depends greatly on commercial trucking, and given the number of large trucks on the state’s roadways, accidents are fairly infrequent. However, an accident involving a commercial truck can be terribly destructive. The good news, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, is that from 2002 to 2012, the country saw a significant drop in the number of truck-involved fatal crashes (17%) and truck-involved injury crashes (18 percent). Still, it is helpful to understand why commercial truck crashes happen so that we can continue to reduce their number and severity.

Common types of commercial truck accidents include:

  • Rear-end accidents — The truck strikes a vehicle in front of it or is hit from behind
  • Right roadside departures — An emergency requires an evasive maneuver that forces the truck off the side of the road. These crashes usually involve a single vehicle—the truck.
  • Sideswipes—This kind of accident involves a brush with another vehicle traveling in the same or opposite direction.
  • Head-on collisions —The deadliest type of crash involves one vehicle crossing a median into oncoming traffic.
  • Jackknifing— Five percent of all truck crashes, according to the National Center for Statistics & Analysis, follow this pattern, where sudden braking causes the trailer to swing out to the side into adjacent lanes of traffic.
  • Rollovers — These rare types of truck accidents sometimes occur in high winds and on sharp turns, where the truck simply topples over on its side.

Causes of the accidents fall into four major categories:

  • Mechanical failure— Tire blowouts account for five percent of truck crashes, and other mechanical failures for six percent.
  • Cargo shift — In 8 percent of truck crashes, a sudden shift of the load causes the driver to lose control of the vehicle.
  • Driver error — Unsafe speed is a factor in 58 percent of truck crashes. Other flaws in the driver’s performance include the failure to recognize a hazard or risk, and making a poor decision about when to change lanes.
  • Other motor vehicle’s unsafe maneuver — Motorists often make poor driving decisions while sharing the road with commercial trucks. Car drivers do not anticipate how the truck — due to its long blind spot, slow braking or wide turning — is going to respond to their vehicle in traffic.

The more you understand about the causes of truck accidents, the better able you’ll be to keep yourself and your family safe on the road.

If you have questions about your rights after a commercial truck accident, a knowledgeable attorney at the Law Offices of Larry H. Parker can help. Call us at 800-333-0000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation in Long Beach, Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange County, Bakersfield, Fresno, Phoenix, or Tucson.