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Top Ten Causes of Truck Accidents

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Posted on May 8, 2018

Crashes involving large trucks can be some of the most dangerous seen on the nation’s roadways, and the causes behind them can range from driver behavior and manufacturing defects to weather and road conditions. Often, an accident is complex and involves more than one factor.

After studying the reasons for crashes involving trucks, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have determined the top ten causes of truck accidents based on how often factors occur and how dangerous they are. If you have been injured in a car accident, or you want to know about measures you can take to prevent a car crash, speak with a capable truck accident attorney that could advocate for you.


Both federal and state laws restrict how much a truck can legally carry because a truck that is overweight can cause the driver to lose control and speed down an incline faster than expected or rollover because of cargo that is improperly distributed.

Making an Illegal Maneuver

While traffic safety rules govern truck driver behavior, trucks often make illegal driving maneuvers. Common traffic violations by truck drivers include illegal passing, turning from the wrong lane, making an illegal U-turn, and traveling in the wrong direction.

Inadequate Surveillance

Inadequate surveillance is when a truck driver is in a situation that would require them to look around them in order to safely complete a maneuver, but they fail to look or do not see an obstacle or another driver in their way. Lane changes and turns at intersections are common situations in which inadequate surveillance may occur.

Traveling Too Fast for Road Conditions

When a truck driver’s speed is greater than a reasonable standard for safe driving, they can be deemed as traveling too fast for the conditions. Drivers are responsible for adjusting their speed to match conditions such as wet roadways, fog, uneven roads, curves, and construction zones.


Inattention generally means that the truck driver failed to pay full attention because they were distracted or failed to observe the driving situation adequately. Sources of inattention while driving often include texting, talking, changing the radio station, and eating.

Following Too Close

When a truck follows another vehicle too closely, it poses a serious safety risk. A large truck is generally not able to stop as quickly due to its weight and length, so if proper space is not maintained, the truck may rear-end the vehicle in front of them.

Misjudgment of Gap or Other’s Speed

Misjudgment of the gap between vehicles, the amount of space into which to turn safely, or of another vehicle’s speed by a truck driver often leads to accidents. Many factors affect the size of a safe gap, including the speed of traffic and sight lines.

Stop Required Before Crash

The failure of truck drivers to stop as required, such as at a traffic control device or crosswalk, is a significant cause of accidents involving trucks.

External Distraction

In addition to internal distractions, truck drivers’ attention can also be diverted by external elements such as animals, billboards, accidents, and scenery. Even if a driver only takes their eyes off the road for a second, the momentary distraction can cause a crash.

Brake Problems

Brake problems, or even brake failure, caused by a defect or improper maintenance are a leading cause of truck accidents, as such issues can render a driver incapable of stopping in time to avoid a crash.

Get Experience on Your Side

Trucks are incredibly important to our nation’s commerce, but they can also be dangerous under certain circumstances. As such, their drivers have a responsibility to operate them safely. If you are injured in an accident with a truck, a seasoned truck accident attorney could help you pursue fair compensation for your losses.