If you were to assume that commercial trucks present a serious danger on our roads, you would be correct. However, the danger does not stem from how many commercial truck accidents happen, but from how serious these accidents tend to be.
Accidents involving commercial trucks lead to serious injuries and death much more frequently than accidents involving passenger vehicles, pickup trucks, or SUVs. In fact, the only type of vehicle more dangerous than a commercial truck is a motorcycle. That said, motorcycles are most dangerous to those riding them, while commercial trucks are most dangerous to those in other vehicles.
The latest statistics demonstrate the dangers posed by commercial trucks. If you were injured or lost a loved one in an accident with one of these vehicles, it is in your best interest to speak to a Nebraska truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.
2020 Vehicle Accidents Statistics in Nebraska
Before looking at commercial truck accidents specifically, we first want to quickly review the general vehicle accident statistics in Nebraska. Key points from the Nebraska Department of Transportation’s Traffic Crash Facts for 2020 include:
- In 2020, there were 29,418 total crashes
- 217 of these crashes were fatal, leading to a total of 233 fatalities
- 9,847 of these accidents involved injuries and 14,100 people were injured in total
- In 2020, one crash occurred every 18 minutes on average while one person was killed in an accident every 38 hours
These are sobering statistics that speak to how important it is that we all take the proper safety precautions while behind the wheel. The data also show that there are two types of vehicles that tend to lead to more serious – including fatal – accidents. One of those vehicle types is commercial vehicles.
The Danger of Commercial Truck Accidents
Consider this statistic: while 4.4% of total accidents in 2020 involved heavy trucks (the category under which commercial trucks fall), these accidents led to 15.1% of all fatal crashes.
The Nebraska report states: “Compared to their involvement in all crashes, motorcycles and heavy trucks are overrepresented in fatal crashes.” Heavy trucks in particular are more dangerous primarily because of their large size.
A commercial truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. This extreme weight can create a significant amount of damage at any speed – most often to other vehicles on the road and their occupants.
Unfortunately, this trend has not been improving in Nebraska. While passenger car accidents have been on the decline, the rate of heavy truck accidents has remained relatively steady over the past decade. Commercial trucks continue to represent a serious hazard to drivers and passengers of other vehicles on the road.
What Causes Truck Accidents?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a report about large truck crash causation that provides some insightful data about why commercial truck accidents occur. In the report, the FMCSA identified a total of 19 critical issues that cause truck accidents.
The vast majority of these causes (15 in total) involve driver factors. According to the FMCSA, the major causes of accidents may involve the condition of the driver (e.g., fatigue, illness, and alcohol usage) and/or driver mistakes (e.g., speeding, distracted driving, and illegal maneuvers).
The most dangerous truck driver behaviors that lead to accidents include:
- Making an illegal maneuver
- Following too closely (tailgating)
- Traveling too fast for conditions
However, there are also mechanical, environmental, and equipment factors that can lead to accidents. For example, the most commonly coded cause for accidents was brake malfunctions, while the most dangerous type of cause across all 19 critical reasons was cargo shifts.
If you or a member of your family was harmed in a truck accident, it is crucial to understand that a variety of different factors can lead to the crash. While the truck driver may be directly at fault, other parties can also be responsible for truck accidents, including trucking companies, loading companies, and others.
How the Cause of an Accident Can Impact Your Case
Identifying the cause of the truck accident is important because recovering compensation depends on your ability to prove negligence. That is, you must provide clear, compelling evidence that demonstrates that a particular party or parties were responsible for the accident.
Sometimes this is relatively clear-cut. For example, a truck driver cuts another driver off and causes the other driver to crash or a truck driver was intoxicated and drove on the wrong side of the road.
In other cases, however, fault and liability are not so straightforward. One of the best examples is fatigue.
When drivers fall asleep at the wheel, it is often assumed that they made the decision to drive while drowsy. However, it is not uncommon in the trucking industry for companies to force their drivers to stay on the road longer than legally allowed. This can lead to driver fatigue, which in turn increases the risk of truck accidents.
Similarly, with the most dangerous type of cause – cargo shifts – the responsibility for the accident could lie with the company responsible for securing the truck’s cargo. In the moment of the cargo shifting, there may be nothing the driver can do to avoid an accident. In this instance, the loading company could be the at-fault party for the accident and your subsequent damages.
Because truck accidents can involve so many different factors and multiple at-fault parties, they tend to be much more complex than a typical car accident case. Truck accident claims require a thorough investigation that looks at all possible causes and defendants, including the driver, the trucking company they work for, the loading company, parts manufacturers, and more.
Also, because of how serious truck accidents tend to be, much more money tends to be at stake in truck accident claims. This means the insurance companies are likely to fight harder before paying the compensation accident victims need and deserve.
The truck accident lawyers at Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf, & Lathrop are here to help. We have over 233 years of combined experience representing accident victims, fighting for their rights, and providing the compassionate guidance they need to hold negligent parties accountable for their actions.
For a free case review, please call (402) 241-5020 today to speak to a truck accident attorney. Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop serves clients in Omaha, Sarpy County, and throughout Nebraska and Iowa.