Overturned semi truck in roadside field requires a truck accident attorney in Rancho Cucamonga, California.

Common Causes of Commercial Truck Accidents in California

Because of their sheer size and weight, big rig trucks have the potential to inflict serious damage when they are involved in a crash. And because of the size mismatch, other vehicles that get into an accident with a semi-truck tend to get the worst of it. 

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 68% of those who are killed in large truck crashes are occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles. 16% are motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians, and just 15% are commercial truck occupants.

The IIHS also reports that commercial truck accident fatalities have been increasing in recent years. In 2020, 4014 individuals were killed in large truck crashes. This was down slightly from the 4142 individuals who died in trucking accidents in 2019, but it was still 28% higher than a decade earlier in 2009 when the number of fatalities was 3147.

California is regularly among the top three states in the nation (along with Texas and Florida) for truck crash fatalities. Each year, somewhere between 200 and 300 traffic-related deaths in the Golden State are attributable to commercial truck accidents.

Southern California has seen its share of truck accident fatalities over the years. Here are a couple of examples:

Fatal truck accidents like these are happening far too frequently these days, and it is important for lawmakers to take steps to make our roadways safer.

Common Reasons for California Trucking Accidents

There are several reasons why large truck accidents occur. Some of the top causes include:

Speeding/Aggressive Driving

Speeding and other forms of aggressive (and sometimes reckless) driving are among the leading causes of commercial trucking crashes. Many truckers routinely travel over the speed limit, especially when they are on a major highway. They may also make other aggressive moves, such as dangerous passing maneuvers and failing to yield the right-of-way.

One of the main reasons that truckers are tempted to drive this way is because of the pressure to meet tight and often unrealistic deadlines. This has only gotten worse over the past few years because of a major shortage of drivers combined with supply chain problems that have been happening since the Covid lockdowns. 

With empty shelves continuing to plague retailers across the country, commercial customers want their merchandise ASAP. With this kind of pressure, it is understandable that a driver would look for ways to cut corners and save time in any way that they can.

Drowsy Driving

Truck drivers spent numerous hours behind the wheel each week, and a large percentage of their driving time is during the overnight hours when there is less traffic on the road. Drivers are limited by federal Hours of Service regulations, and they are required to take a break after a certain amount of hours of driving. These regulations are not enough to prevent a commercial driver from becoming tired or fatigued, however.

Drowsy driving is very common among commercial truck drivers. And when someone is sleepy or fatigued while behind the wheel, it vastly increases the risk of something going wrong. The worst case of course is falling asleep at the wheel, but even if that does not happen, a drowsy driver has slower reflexes and more difficulty staying focused.

Distracted Driving

When you spend so many hours on the road, it is very easy to get bored and look for ways to pass the time. In past years, truckers were usually content to listen to their radio and/or talk to other drivers over their CB radio. Today, it is all too common for drivers to get distracted by their smartphones, which is far more dangerous than most other types of distractions.

Texting while driving and similar activities are especially hazardous because they distract drivers in three ways; visually, manually, and cognitively. Sending and reading electronic messages requires the driver’s entire focus, which means they are not able to concentrate on the road while they are engaged with their phone. 

Smartphone distractions make it far more likely that a driver might miss something important that could happen on the road, such as a car entering their blind spot or a pedestrian crossing the road in front of them. Even if a driver spends just five seconds looking at their phone while traveling at 55 mph down the highway, it is like driving the entire length of a football field blindfolded.

Driver Inexperience

There is a reason that operating an 18-wheeler requires a Class A commercial driver’s license (CDL). In addition to a CDL, truck drivers need extensive training to be able to operate the vehicle safely. But because of the severe driver shortage, trucking companies often cut corners in order to get drivers on the road as quickly as possible. 

Chemical Impairment

Drivers cope with the stress of being in the trucking industry in various ways, and some turned to alcohol or drugs to take the edge off. It is well known that driving while intoxicated is extremely dangerous and vastly increases the risk of a serious vehicle accident.

Overloaded/Unevenly Loaded Trucks

Some big rig truck accidents are caused by trucks that are overloaded or loaded improperly, causing the vehicle to turn over or get flipped onto its side. This usually occurs for one of two reasons. 

A commercial truck could be loaded to over its weight limit because the company is trying to save money by shipping more cargo in the same load. Or the truck might be loaded unevenly because the cargo/shipping company is in a hurry to get the vehicle back on the road and they do not load the truck as carefully as they should.

Negligent Maintenance

Semi-trucks typically log tens of thousands of miles over the road each month. For this reason, it is absolutely critical that these trucks are regularly maintained. But again, there is ongoing pressure to keep the trucks on the road, which might mean failing to perform regular inspections and other maintenance. This can lead to big problems on the road, such as tire blowouts and brake failures.

Vehicle Defects

Some vehicle problems that cause trucking accidents can be traced to faulty vehicles or vehicle parts. When a truck crash is caused by a vehicle defect, it may be possible to bring a product liability claim against the designer, manufacturer, distributor, or any other party within the product’s supply chain.

Injured in a Trucking Accident in Southern California? Contact an Experienced Rancho Cucamonga, CA Truck Accident Attorney

Commercial truck accidents often result in severe and sometimes fatal injuries. And in a large number of these cases, the fault lies with the truck driver, trucking company, or various third parties. Because of the complexities involved with truck crash cases, it is very important to work with an attorney who knows what it takes to ensure that all responsible parties are held fully accountable.

If you or a loved one suffered an injury in a truck accident in San Bernardino County or anywhere in Southern California, contact Muhareb Law Group for assistance. Call us today at (909) 519-5832 or send us an online message to set up a free consultation and case assessment with one of our attorneys.