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What are the most common causes of commercial truck crashes?

On Behalf of | May 16, 2022 | Truck Accidents |

Collisions between passenger vehicles and commercial trucks can be devastating for those in the smaller vehicle. The difference in size and weight means people can suffer fatal injuries in a semitruck wreck.

For the most part, you can trust that the professional drivers in control of commercial vehicles have the training and skills to properly manage those large and heavy trucks. However, no amount of education or experience can completely counteract human nature.

People have a tendency to make mistakes, to cut corners and to let personal or health issues affect job performance. By carefully tracking and analyzing the reported causes of commercial truck crashes, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) can provide guidance for educational institutions training commercial drivers and employers hiring them.

What are the main causes of commercial truck collisions according to FMCSA data?

Making the wrong decision at the wheel

The top category of commercial crash causes involve errors in decision-making by the driver. When a trucker maintains a speed that they know is too fast given the road conditions, follows another vehicle too closely or makes other choices that deviate from best practices, they substantially increase their likelihood of causing a wreck. The bad choices drivers sometimes make are responsible for roughly 38% of all commercial crashes caused by commercial vehicles.

They don’t pay adequate attention

Distraction is a major issue for every driver, but it can be particularly risky for the people operating commercial vehicles. Eating, making phone calls to family members and many other common behaviors at the wheel are technically distractions. Commercial drivers dividing their focus are responsible for approximately 28% of all reported commercial collisions where the bigger vehicle is to blame.


The third most common cause of commercial trucking crashes according to FMCSA crash data is non-performing. Non-performance occurs when the truck driver falls asleep at the wheel or suffers a medical event that prevents them from maintaining control. Non-performance causes another 12% of commercial vehicle wrecks.

Drivers can use this information much like trucking companies do to minimize their personal risk and identify others who might put them at unnecessary risk on the road. Knowing your rights and whom to hold accountable can help you seek justice after a commercial vehicle collision.

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