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Trucking Accidents Caused By Driver Error

Truck HoeThe Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Large Truck Crash Causation Study[1] reviewed 141,000 large truck injury and fatal crashes. The collisions reviewed during the course of the Administration’s study demonstrated that truck driver error was responsible for a majority of the accidents as follows:

  • Non-Performance: The driver fell asleep, was disabled by a heart attack or seizure, or was physically impaired for another reason. Non-performance accounted for 12% of the crashes included in the large truck study.
  • Recognition: The driver was inattentive, was distracted by something inside or outside the vehicle or failed to observe the situation adequately for some other reason. Recognition accounted for 28% of the accidents included in the study.
  • Decision: The driver was driving too fast for conditions, misjudged the speed of other vehicles, or followed other vehicles too closely. Accounted for 28% of the nationwide collisions.
  • Performance: The driver panicked, overcompensated, or exercised poor directional control. Accounted for 9% of the crashes involving big rigs.

The national large truck crash causation study set forth different types of driver error resulting in truck collisions including:

  • Driver Fatigue Causing Trucking Accidents

Fatigue leads truck drivers to fall asleep, be inattentive, misjudge gaps, ignore the signs of impending dangers, panic, freeze, and under- or overreact to a situation. The FMCSA study provides that fatigue accounted for 13% of the collisions, including 18,000 large trucks.

  • Hours of Service Rules

Federal regulations (called the “hours of service rules”) set forth rules to ensure that truck drivers obtain the necessary rest and restorative sleep in order to drive safely. Under these rules, truck drivers can work a maximum of 14 hours per day, during which time they can only drive for a maximum of 11 hours. The driver must be off duty for 10 consecutive hours prior to the start of a shift. The driver also cannot drive after being on duty for 60 hours in seven consecutive days or 70 hours in eight consecutive days. Pressure to continue working from a carrier accounted for 10% of the large truck accidents involving 16,000 commercial trucks.

  • Drug Use by Truck Drivers

The FMCSA study provides that truck driver’s use of illegal drugs accounted for 2% of the total accidents or 3,000 trucks while over-the-counter drug usage accounted for 17% of the collisions or 25,000 trucks.

Drivers may not use any controlled substances unless prescribed by a licensed physician who is familiar with the driver’s medical history and assigned duties and has determined that the drug use will not adversely affect the driver’s ability to safely operate a commercial motor vehicle.

Federal regulations[2 require trucking companies to:

1) test their drivers for alcohol and drug use as a condition of employment, and

2) require periodic random tests of the drivers while they are on duty and after an accident involving a fatality.

Contact a Truck Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one were involved in an accident with a large truck, you may have sustained life changing disabilities as a result of your injuries.At McEwen & Kestner, our team of experienced truck accident lawyers has successfully helped many truck accident victims obtain the compensation they deserve for their injuries and related losses. To make sure that you receive all of the compensation to which you are entitled, it is important to have an experienced truck accident attorney in Georgia handling your case. Please call our office today at 800-732-3070 or email



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