Causes of Truck Accidents

Ben Bingham, Truck Accident lawyer
Truck Accident Attorney

A truck accident is more likely to cause catastrophic injuries or death than other vehicle accidents because of the size and weight of the trucks. Those expensive injuries are hard to pay for, and not a cost you should need to bear if you didn’t cause the accident. A truck accident lawyer can help.

A tractor-trailer can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. In some cases, such as oversize loads carrying heavy equipment, the combined weight of the truck, trailer and cargo is even more. That’s a lot of weight colliding with a 4,000-pound car.

The skilled truck accident attorneys at Benson & Bingham Have put together a review of the most common causes of truck accidents on Nevada roads.

Studies of the Causes of Truck Accidents

According to the NCBI, statisticians group accidents in two categories: Unsafe acts and latent factors. Unsafe acts are behaviors and/or conditions that cause an accident, while latent factors are predisposing conditions that make a wreck more likely to happen. An example of an unsafe act is speeding, while the weather is an example of a latent factor.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) did a study of truck accidents. It found that critical events and critical reasons caused many crashes. The FMCSA defines a critical event as, “The action or event that put the vehicle or vehicles on a course that made the collision unavoidable.” The critical reason is the reason the critical event happened and might include weather issues, driver error or the failure of the vehicle.

Critical Events

The study found that the most common truck accidents include a truck leaving its lane, moving either off the road or into another lane, the driver lost control of the truck because he or she was speeding, a mechanical failure on the truck and/or trailer, the cargo was not tied down properly and shifted, the road conditions were poor or because the truck rear-ended another vehicle.

Critical Reasons

Only half of the trucks in the study were assigned a critical reason. It found that a driver’s poor decision making, non-recognition of the events leading up to the accident because of distraction, or the driver’s performance or non-performance attributed to 87 percent of the critical reasons for accidents.

Decision-making includes drivers who were speeding, tailgating or did not properly judge the actions of other drivers. Non-performance reasons include a medical condition that rendered the driver incapable of controlling the truck, falling asleep, or some other physical impairment. Performance mistakes include overcompensating, a panicked driver, or the driver failing to properly control the direction of the truck.

Problems with the truck accounted for just 10 percent of the critical reasons for truck accidents, while the environment, including the weather, accounted for just 3 percent of the critical reasons for truck accidents. Inclement weather could mean fog, snow, rain, ice, wind, the sun or a combination of these factors.

In many cases, inclement weather might combine with speeding, distraction or another reason. In other words, the snow might contribute to the accident, but only because the driver is speeding. Or, speeding might contribute to accidents, but in some accidents, only because it was raining.

Factors Related to Accidents

In addition to critical reasons and events, other factors also contributed to many truck accidents. Of the 141,000 trucks that were in accidents, the FMCSA found that:

  • 29 percent of the trucks involved in accidents had brake problems;
  • Drivers going to fast for conditions accounted for 23 percent of the accidents;
  • Drivers not familiar with the road accounted for 22 percent of the accidents;
  • Problems with the road accounted for 20 percent of the accidents;
  • Drivers using over-the-counter drugs accounted for 17 percent of the accidents;
  • Distracted drivers accounted for 14 percent of the accidents;
  • Tired drivers accounted for 13 percent of the accidents;
  • Drivers who said the carrier pressured them into making a deadline accounted for 10 percent of the accidents;
  • Drivers who made an illegal maneuver and who were not paying attention tied for 9 percent of the accidents;

Additional reasons for accidents included external distractions, tire problems, tailgating, jackknife, cargo shifting, medical reasons, distractions inside the cab, drinking and doing illegal drugs. Alcohol and illegal drugs accounted for only 1 and 2 percent of the accidents, respectively.

Prescription drug use, not stopping in time to prevent crashing and the interruption of traffic flow also caused accidents. However, the reasons for these types of accidents were not significantly related to any of the critical reasons listed above. In other words, the number of trucks involved in these three types of accidents was similar, whether a critical reason was involved or not.

How a Nevada Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help You


According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2018, Nevada saw 24 accidents involving at least one large truck. That is down from 37 in 2017, 29 in 2016 and 27 in 2015. It is an increase from 17 fatal truck accidents in 2014 (Page 13).

In the past several years, the federal government has implemented new regulations for truckers to help decrease accidents. Hours of service and electronic logs are supposed to help reduce accidents caused by fatigue and overwork. Regulations require regular maintenance of trucks to hopefully lower the incidence of maintenance-related accidents. However, you might look at a water pump that is working fine in the morning and it gives out, causing the truck to become uncontrollable hours later. Even with strict maintenance schedules, trucking companies cannot predict all truck malfunctions.

The same goes for medical issues. If a driver passes a physical and is deemed medically safe to drive today, he or she might suffer from an unexpected medical issue that could cause an accident tomorrow.

Regardless of the reason for a truck accident, the impacts are the same: severe injuries and the tragic loss of loved ones. Your own insurance may not even cover all of your medical bills or other expenses resulting from an accident with a truck, let alone compensate you for your pain and suffering. Contacting a personal injury attorney who has experience with truck accidents can help you navigate the process of obtaining the compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses.

Benson & Bingham
626 S 10th St
Las Vegas, NV 89101
702-382-9797

Benson and Bingham