What’s the Main Cause for Most Semi Accidents?

semi accidents

The United States Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regularly publishes a report known as “The Large Truck Crash Causation Study”. This report is designed to examine a representative sample of collisions from around the country, and study the important contributing factors to large truck crashes. In the study, “causation” is defined as factors, events, or contributors most likely to increase the risk of a serious truck crash.

The main cause of semi accidents is brake problems, but most collisions involve a combination of factors. If you are the victim of a serious truck accident, know that you can reach out to Thompson Law any time for help, answers, and guidance. The call and consultation are free, and you are only charged a fee if we win your case.

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Causes of Semi-Trailer Collisions

Big Rig trucks can be notoriously dangerous on the road. Their unique handling, size, and weight make them exceedingly precarious when they are not being operated with absolute attention from the driver. Despite what we know about the damage these over-sized vehicles can cause when things go wrong, modern expectations of long-haul drivers can be extremely demanding. This forces the owner-operators and employees who drive these vehicles to cut corners in order to meet tight timetables and cover as much mileage as possible.

  • Driver Fatigue – Long hours, disrupted sleep cycles or limited time to sleep, and physically demanding processes to load and unload cargo results in mentally and physically drained drivers
  • Cargo issues – Unbalanced, overweight, or poorly loaded cargo can lead to leaks, spills, or handling difficulties
  • Road time limits – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates Hours of Service that truck drivers may be on the road. These mandated limits may be higher than you think, including a stipulation that property-carrying drivers are only required to take a break after their 14th consecutive hour of driving
  • Alcohol and Drug Use – This type of impairment in a driver operating a small car is scary enough, let alone an 80,000-pound tractor-trailer. But sadly, drivers do test positive for these substances. Even beyond alcohol and illegal drugs, some prescription medication can result in side effects that impair driving. Irresponsible consumption of any drug can have tragic results on the road.
  • Distracted Driving – Cell phones, maps, GPS devices are incredibly useful tools to truckers navigating their routes, but they can also lead to dangerous distractions. 3 seconds with eyes off the road can result in a vehicle wandering over a full lane, and in the case of a large tractor-trailer, that error can impact many vehicles on the road at once.
  • Speeding – Speeding is one of the highest contributors to traffic fatalities, and this illegal act is even more dangerous in the case of a large and heavy semi-trailer. These trucks are difficult to stop and have braking systems that are more susceptible to failure at high speeds than standard cars.
  • Mechanical – Before anti-lock brakes were required, starting in 1997, they were the main cause of tractor-trailer accidents, particularly jackknifing.
  • Treacherous Roads – Inclement weather like rain or snow, icy roads, and low visibility are all complicating factors for every vehicle. This is especially true with semis which need much longer

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Types of Tractor-Trailer Crashes

  • Types of tractor-trailer collisions can also influence the type and severity of injuries and damage that are a result.
  • Broadside – Also called a T-bone collision, one automobile collides with the side panel of another. These semi accidents can have particularly disastrous whiplash, contusion, and other injuries.
  • Rear End – Due to the heavyweight of truck machinery and trailer cargo, these trucks are much harder to stop than cars, SUVs, or other standard vehicles.
  • Sideswipe – This type of impact occurs commonly with large trucks that require wide turns. Narrow intersections can be particularly treacherous.
  • Rollover – Rollovers have surpassed jackknifing as the most dangerous semi accidents since the requirement for anti-lock brakes went into effect.
  • Jackknifing – An accident where the brakes lock up, resulting in the trailer swinging around to create an acute angle with the truck.
  • Head-On – Often caused by fatigue or drowsiness, causing lane wandering.
  • Single Vehicle – One tractor-trailer colliding with debris, stationary objects or going off the road, resulting in damage or injury.
  • Multi-Vehicle – One or more semi-trucks colliding with one or more vehicles or objects, and one of the deadliest forms of semi accidents.

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More Tractor Trailers on the Road as DFW Grows

The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex has experienced significant growth, particularly in the past several years. With the increase in population, industry, and commerce here, trucking has also grown in frequency and volume. Dallas-based Moore Transport, for example, has expanded from a humble two-truck operation into a fleet of over 300, with a revenue increase of 56% from the year 2015 to 2016.

These types of increases to the trucking industry have significant impacts on the traffic and navigability of our community, which in turn impacts our safety on the roads.

Need Help with a Semi Accident? Thompson Law is Here for You

Injuries as a result of large truck crashes can be particularly serious because these large motor vehicles are so heavy and powerful. The damage they do to the cars, people, and objects they hit is often extremely severe. In addition, trucks are often owned by companies or corporations that have sophisticated insurance and legal representation to protect them.

You should not be in pain after an accident, working to heal and recover, while worrying about fighting off these large, powerful institutions. Bring a lion to the fight, and let Ryan Thompson’s fierce team battle on your behalf. That way you can focus on the important things: your health, your family, and your life after the accident.

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The statute of limitations for personal injury cases in Texas is two years, so if you have been injured in a semi-trailer accident, consult with a personal injury attorney experienced in handling semi accidents. The sooner you know your options, the sooner you are on the path to recovery and your deserved compensation. Call the fours right away for assistance with your injury and claim: (214) 444-4444, (817) 444-4444, (972) 444-4444, or (469) 444-4444. Wherever you are in DFW, just dial 444-4444. THE FOURS are here 4 you!


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State law limits the time you have to file a claim after an auto accident. If you have been injured in an accident, call now to get the help you need.