Last year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) reported to Congress, the results of a 3-year study into the causes of large truck crashes. Large trucks were defined for the study, as any truck weighing 5 tons or more. The study was the most comprehensive yet conducted, involving a thorough review of nearly 1,000 crashes in 17 states. The purpose of the study was to gain an in-depth understanding of the causes of accidents involving large trucks so that measures could be undertaken to lessen the toll. Results of the study were surprising to many readers.
Far and away, the major causes of truck crash fatalities and truck crash injuries, was driver conduct. Tampa Bay Injury Board member, Bob Carroll, has a chilling example of the tragedy that can result from a truck-car crash. While important, factors such as equipment failure, weather, and roadway conditions, caused significantly fewer large truck accidents than did actions and failures of the driver. Many large truck accidents involved multiple driver-related causes. Legal drug use, both prescription and non-prescription, along with fatigue, was a major source of large truck crashes. Other major driver-related causes included excessive speed, work-related pressure, aggressive driving and following too closely. Of the large truck accidents studied, more than half involved fatalities or incapacitating injuries. Until and unless Congress and the trucking industry acts aggressively to drastically lessen the toll of large truck crashes, automobile drivers best keep a wary eye on these monsters of the roads.