An Alabama truck driver yawns at the wheel of his vehicle, indicating drowsy driving which is one of the most common causes of semi-truck accidents.

Common Causes of Semi-Truck Accidents

Many drivers are nervous to be on the road near semi-trucks—with good reason! These vehicles can cause much more damage in an accident than passenger vehicles can, and there are unique factors involved when driving around big trucks that don’t come into play when driving near cars. For this reason, we have written the following article in hopes of educating our Alabama neighbors on the common causes of semi-truck accidents so that these collisions can be more easily avoided.

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Accidents Caused by Truck Driver or Trucking Company Negligence

Because of the unique challenges faced by truck drivers, it is important that they take extra precautions to avoid being in accidents that can have devastating consequences. To begin, let’s explore how a trucker’s own negligence or the negligence of the company that employs them could possibly cause a truck accident on Alabama roads:

  • Speeding—Truck drivers who exceed the speed limit effectively reduce their ability to stop in time and increase the severity of collisions. Speeding can lead to a truck driver’s loss of control and difficulty maneuvering through traffic.
  • Drunk, Drowsy, or Distracted Driving—Driving under the influence, extreme fatigue, or engaging in distracting activities like texting while driving can significantly impair a truck driver’s judgment and reaction times, making them more prone to accidents. Trucking companies can contribute to drowsy driving by pressuring drivers to meet tight delivery schedules, potentially causing hours of service violations that lead to increased fatigue and compromised road safety.
  • Lack of Training—Inadequate training of truck drivers by the trucking company can result in poor decision-making, unsafe driving practices, and an increased likelihood of accidents. 
  • Improperly Loaded Cargo—While cargo loading is sometimes carried out by a third party, any negligence on the part of the truck driver or their company in loading and securing cargo can lead to accidents. Poorly balanced or unsecured loads can cause the truck to become unstable or spill onto the road, endangering other motorists.
  • Lack of Regularly Scheduled Maintenance—Neglecting routine maintenance and inspections can result in dangerous mechanical issues. An example of such an issue is brake system failures, including worn brake pads or malfunctioning components, which can result in accidents and pose a serious threat to road safety.
  • Failure To Yield—Failure to yield the right-of-way, whether at intersections, merging onto highways, or in other traffic situations, can result in collisions.

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Accidents Caused by Other Factors

While the following causes may not have involved the truck driver or trucking company, do not think that an accident involving these factors precludes you from having a case. Many of these outside factors still demonstrate negligence and could qualify you for compensation in a truck accident injury claim. 

  • Defective Equipment
  • Tire Blowouts
  • Bad Weather (rain, snow, fog, ice)
  • Improper Maintenance (unlike lack of maintenance, liability for improper maintenance would fall on the maintenance company expected to do the job)
  • Objects or Potholes in the Road
  • Insufficient Signage

Jackknifing and Underride Collisions

While semi-trucks can be involved in some of the same types of collisions as passenger vehicles, such as rear-end accidents, rollovers, head-on collisions, and t-boning, both jackknifing and underride collisions are specific to big trucks.

What Is Jackknifing?

Jackknifing is when the truck and its trailer fold into a V-shape. This typically occurs when the trailer of the truck skids or swings out to one side while the tractor (the front part of the truck) continues moving forward. This can cause loss of control, reduced visibility, blocking of lanes, and rapid deceleration, and it can result in the trailer hitting nearby cars or pushing them into other lanes.

What Is an Underride?

An underride accident occurs when a smaller vehicle, such as a car, collides with the rear or side of a semi-truck and ends up sliding or wedging underneath the higher chassis of the truck. This can happen due to factors like reduced visibility, sudden stops, or high-impact force. Underride accidents are extremely dangerous as the truck’s structure can crush or intrude into the passenger compartment of the car.

A semi-truck is seen speeding on the highway, about to cause a truck accident.

How Common Are Fatal Truck Accidents?

Truck accident data from 2020 shows that 1% of all truck accidents nationwide resulted in at least one fatality, with speeding being the most common driver-related cause of fatal truck accidents. While 1% may seem like a low percentage, it still represents over 4,400 fatal collisions with big trucks.
Additionally, data from the same year shows that Alabama was the state with the second most truck accident fatalities. This means that drivers in Alabama are even more likely to suffer a wrongful death due to truck driver negligence.

Our Alabama Truck Accident Attorneys Have the Experience You Need

If you’re wondering what to do after a truck accident, make sure that hiring an attorney is at the top of your list. This is the best way to decrease the stress on your shoulders and increase the amount of recoverable damages. The truck accident lawyers at Floyd Hunter Injury Law assist clients in Montgomery, Millbrook, and across the state of Alabama with recovering the maximum compensation legally available in their injury claims. We don’t charge upfront fees, and we only get paid if we recover compensation for you, so be sure to get your free case review as soon as possible after an accident!