Semi-trucks use the same roads as smaller passenger vehicles and their drivers have to follow all of the same laws. There are even special federal statutes that apply to semi-truck drivers that would not apply to those in passenger vehicles. Those who drive commercial trucks need to undergo special training and maintain a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
Despite those regulations, crashes between commercial vehicles and passenger vehicles are a common issue in Florida. In 2021, Florida saw more semi-truck deaths than most other states. 373 people lost their lives in crashes with semi-trucks that year. The following are the top five causes of semi-truck crashes.
Passenger vehicle drivers
According to research into crash data by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the people who drive passenger vehicles cause slightly less than half of all semi-truck crashes. Often, the mistakes these drivers make involve getting too close to a commercial truck.
Commercial drivers’ decisions
When looking at the crashes caused by big trucks, bad decisions by drivers were the leading cause of such collisions. According to the FMCSA, 38% of the crashes caused by semi-trucks are the results of a decision-making failure. Leaving inadequate space between vehicles or driving too fast given road conditions are examples of decision-making mistakes that could cause a crash.
The second-leading reason that semi-truck drivers cause crashes is a recognition issue. Due to distraction, visibility issues or other factors, they fail to properly monitor traffic and may cause a crash as a result.
Truck drivers have to work very long shifts in a profession that has a strong association with health challenges such as obesity. According to FMCSA data, approximately 12% of the crashes caused by semi-trucks occur because the driver cannot perform their job due to falling asleep or having a medical emergency.
Occasionally, a truck driver would not be able to prevent a crash despite their best efforts because of an issue with the vehicle itself. Improperly-loaded trailers, bad brakes and tire blowouts are all issues that could cause crashes due to the condition of the semi-truck.
Most of these concerns are not under the control of the average driver. Giving commercial trucks as much space as possible on the road could help people limit their chances of causing a crash and may give them time to react to potential hazards that could otherwise lead to a crash.