Understanding The Causes Of Truck Accidents

I am Charles C. Gentile, an attorney who has also logged 750,000 miles behind the wheel as a commercial truck driver. My work in the trucking industry has given me an up-close look at the many practices and problems that lead to deadly truck accidents. I now use that knowledge as a consultant to other attorneys in truck accident litigation and as an advocate for victims of truck crashes.

The causes of truck accidents and are too numerous to list on this page, but a partial list of common causes and contributing factors includes:

  • Driver fatigue related to health problems
  • Hours-of-service violation leading to fatigue
  • Truck drivers who have to drive many hours just to start working
  • Drunk or drugged driving
  • Distracted driving
  • Equipment problems: failure to maintain and inspect, overweight loads, improperly secured loads, vehicles that have non-compliant equipment

A note about distracted driving: For most non-commercial drivers, distraction behind the wheel is a poor but personal choice. For truck drivers, it is often part of the job. There are many gadgets in the truck that are meant to improve safety. If you monitor them all, you will not be paying attention to the road. Cellphone use is a big deal as well, because drivers often need one to communicate with a terminal.

Trucking Company Liability: Hiring Unqualified And Untrained Drivers

Driving an 18-wheeler is very different from driving a sedan or SUV. It takes specialized training and experience to drive these giant vehicles safely. Yet many commercial drivers are ill-prepared for the work they take on. Here are just some of the problems that can lead to a truck accident:

Poor training in driving schools: Most driving schools are focused solely on helping students get a commercial driver's license (CDL). Many do not even put students in a truck during the course. To make matters worse, most CDL tests do not require students to prove that they have behind-the-wheel experience.

Trucking companies are desperate to hire drivers: Trucking firms are looking for drivers all the time. They can rarely afford to be selective and are bringing in a lot of inexperienced drivers. They also tend to shortchange driver training because they are eager to send new drivers off with cargo as soon as possible.

The ideal scenario for training would be for new drivers to work with an experienced mentor for several weeks before going solo, but training is rarely, if ever, done this way.

Lack of background checks and health screening: Does a driver candidate have a criminal record or a problematic driving record? Does he have a history of drug or alcohol abuse? Does he suffer from health problems (sleep apnea, diabetes, etc.) that could lead to an accident? Companies are often required to ask these types of questions, but they may not do much to verify that candidates are answering truthfully and providing evidence of their fitness to drive.

Problems managing drivers long-term: The trucking company's responsibility does not stop after a new driver is hired. Vetting and monitoring needs to continue even after drivers have been on the job for quite a while. Yet too many trucking companies fail to do this. They may also fail to take a driver out of service even after a medical diagnosis that poses serious safety concerns.

Contact Me For A Free Consultation About Your Truck Accident Lawsuit

Charles C. Gentile Attorney at Law, is based in Chalk Hill, Pennsylvania, and serves clients across the United States. If you are a lawyer working on a complex truck accident case and could use the help of a highly experienced consultant, call me at 724-320-9613 to discuss your options in a free consultation. You can also reach me via email.