Truck driver errors and inattention a serious threat to TN drivers

Truck accidents often result from poor decisions, responses or focus on the part of truck drivers, and the results can be devastating for other motorists.

Large trucks play an essential role in the American economy, and they are a common sight on interstates and smaller roads in Tennessee. Unfortunately, this means large truck accidents present a significant threat to local drivers.

A tragic Hawkins County accident recently illustrated the risk of unnecessary truck accidents. According to WHJL, a truck driver tried to turn across traffic, realized he could not perform the maneuver and turned back around. While turning, the truck hit an oncoming car head-on, killing the 18-year old driver and injuring two passengers. Sadly, accidents like this that stem from errors or poor decisions on the part of commercial drivers are not so uncommon.

Decision and response errors

The results of the Large-Truck Crash Causation Study, conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, helps shed light on the role commercial driver mistakes often play in accidents. The project surveyed over 1,000 crashes, analyzing hundreds of potential variables in each crash.

Researchers found that many accidents are not due to uncontrollable factors, such as environmental conditions or equipment failure. Truck driver decisions or mistakes contributed substantially to accidents, as these figures reveal:

  • Driver-related factors, including recognition errors and decision-making errors, played a role in over one-third of two-vehicle accidents.
  • Recognition errors, which involve distraction or failure to properly analyze a situation, represented 29 percent of truck driver errors.
  • Decision errors, such as misjudging road conditions or the intentions of other drivers, accounted for 34 percent of the mistakes truck drivers made.
  • Physical impairments and accidental performance errors, such as overcompensating, were much less common, accounting collectively for just 25 percent of accidents.

Truck driver mistakes can cause devastating accidents even when the drivers are paying full attention. When drivers are distracted, the likelihood of a serious accident is even worse. Past studies have found that as many as 78 to 81 percent of large truck crashes or "critical events," which are near-accidents, involve some form of distraction, according to Driver Distraction in Commercial Vehicles report, which was a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration study.

Sadly, when professionals drivers knowingly make dangerous decisions or simply fail to make the correct decision, other motorists are likely to suffer the worst outcomes.

Steep consequences for others

During large truck accidents involving two vehicles, the occupants of the smaller vehicle most often suffer injuries or fatalities. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, large trucks can weigh 20 to 30 times more than smaller vehicles, which can make accidents catastrophic.

In 96 percent of fatal large truck accidents in 2012, people other than the truck driver suffered from fatal injuries. Though large trucks only played a role in 10 percent of all car accidents that year, they caused 23 percent of the passenger vehicle deaths that occurred in accidents involving multiple vehicles.

Considering the severity of many truck accidents, it is crucial that victims who were wrongfully injured or lost a loved one receive any compensation they may be due. Anyone who has been hurt in a large truck accident should discuss pursuing compensation with a lawyer.

Keywords: truck, accident, injury