Quality. Integrity. Excellence.

graphite drawing of Whitten Burrage office
  1. Home
  2.  » 
  3. Auto/Truck Accidents
  4.  » What are the top reasons semi-trucks cause crashes?

What are the top reasons semi-trucks cause crashes?

On Behalf of | Sep 20, 2023 | Auto/Truck Accidents

A semi-truck is large and heavy, which makes it particularly difficult to maneuver. The professionals who drive 18-wheelers generally need special training and must maintain a commercial driver’s license. Securing a CDL requires that someone not only pass a test but also undergo background checks and medical reviews to ensure that they won’t put members of the public at risk to an unreasonable degree.

Despite all of the precautions in place to limit the collisions caused by semi-trucks, these massive commercial vehicles and/or their operators are to blame for thousands of preventable collisions every year. When looking at federal crash data, there are four reasons that stand out as the leading causes of crashes where a semi-truck and/or its operator is to blame.

Drivers making the wrong decision

According to an analysis performed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), drivers making the wrong decision caused 38% of the collisions the organization analyzed. Examples of improper driving decisions might include maintaining a speed that is too high or failing to keep enough distance between one vehicle and another.

Drivers not paying attention

Failing to recognize and properly respond to changing traffic conditions was listed as the second most common reason that commercial drivers caused crashes. In some cases, they may have gotten distracted by a device or a meal. Other times, they may simply be unable to monitor their surroundings because of the blind spots that their vehicles create. Recognition errors are to blame for another 28% of truck-caused collisions.


Sometimes, drivers don’t actually make a mistake but become physically incapable of performing their job, a situation that causes 12% of semi-truck wrecks. Non-performance incidents can stem from someone falling asleep at the wheel or experiencing some kind of medical emergency. A driver who is unconscious won’t be able to respond to traffic conditions and maintain control over a vehicle.

Issues with the vehicle

The last cause contributing to semi-truck collisions will often be the fault of an employer rather than a driver. Issues with vehicle repair and maintenance can directly cause collisions. If a driver cannot stop quickly or otherwise loses control of the vehicle, a collision could very easily result. Roughly 10% of the crashes caused by semi-trucks are the result of some kind of problem with the vehicle itself rather than something the driver did.

Insurance claims and sometimes even personal injury lawsuits can serve as viable routes to secure compensation when a commercial vehicle and/or its operator is at fault for a crash. Identifying the underlying cause of a wreck may make it easier for someone to pursue compensation.