Causes & Effects of a Truck Accident in California

Updated: May 20

Know the common cause and effect of a truck accident in California and learn how to avoid it.

A moving commercial truck's weight and dimensions transform it into a powerful force capable of crushing anything in its path, especially when traveling at high speeds. Large commercial vehicle collisions have the potential to be extremely destructive, resulting in fatalities and catastrophic long-term or permanent injuries. The majority of truck accident casualties are occupants of compact passenger vehicles, according to statistics.

Victims that involve in a truck accident may demand special expertise, protection, and assistance from a California Personal Injury Attorney.

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We see trucks everywhere. Trucks are a critical and practical mode of freight transportation in the US. We have used them for so long that they have changed drastically during the previous century and a half. The majority of freight was transported by railroad or on horse-drawn trailers until the late nineteenth century. Then steam-powered vehicles began hauling products, but their existence was brief.

Internal combustion engines underwent tremendous modifications and advancements in design, power, and dependability in the early twentieth century. Because gasoline and diesel-powered trucks were far more powerful and capable of carrying greater weight over longer distances than steam-powered trucks, they swiftly displaced steam engines and established themselves as the unchallenged leader in the freight transportation industry.

Unfortunately, the prevalence of trucks on modern roads and highways has a drawback. Thousands of truck accidents occur every year across the United States, including in Los Angeles. Their prevalence is why it's vital to read about the damages these accidents might cause you; so you know where to go when you need a Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney.

Commercial truck or tractor-trailer accidents are notoriously complicated and fiercely defended. Trucking businesses devote a lot of time and effort to fighting these claims, and they go to great lengths to make them as tough as possible. Furthermore, the trucking business is governed by a number of safety rules. For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ("FMCSA"), a division of the United States Department of Transportation, regulates the trucking business in the United States. The FMCSA's major purpose is to prevent heavy truck and bus crashes, fatalities, and injuries through a variety of rules, including drug tests, shift hours limits, and medical inspections. Consider one of our prescreened California Lawyers in your California Attorney Search.


  • A huge truck's weight might range from 10,000 to 80,000 pounds. The overall gross weight of a loaded truck is limited to 80,000 pounds by federal regulation.

  • Typical passenger automobiles weigh between 3,000 and 4,000 pounds.

  • Trucks can have up to 25 times the weight of a typical passenger vehicle.

Braking Distance

  • Stopping a truck takes longer and requires more distance than stopping a passenger vehicle.

  • The brakes on huge 18-wheelers are not the same as those on passenger cars.

  • Hydraulic (liquid-based) brakes are common in automobiles, allowing them to operate almost quickly. Large trucks, on the other hand, have pneumatic (air-based) brakes. Compressed air is pumped into specific air storage tanks by an engine-driven compressor. When the truck driver presses the brake pedal, compressed air must exit the tank and flow to all brake cylinders on all wheels. This causes brake lag, which is the interval between pressing the brake pedal and the brakes actually slowing the truck down.

  • To come to a complete stop, a passenger car weighing around 4,000 pounds going at 65 miles per hour will need roughly 316 feet (i.e., almost the length of one football field).

  • A fully loaded big rig weighing 80,000 pounds and driving at 65 miles per hour will require a stopping distance of 525 feet.

Statistics on Truck Accidents in California

The numbers of truck accidents in the United States are staggering, according to statistical analysis based on research from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ("FMCSA"), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA"), and the California Department of Transportation ("Caltrans" ):

  1. There are over 15 million trucks in the United States.

  2. 18-wheelers (also known as "big rigs," "semi-trucks," "semi-trailers," "trailer trucks," "truck trailers," and other terms) account for over a quarter of all trucks on American highways.

Large Trucks Cause Fatalities and Injuries

  • Every year, more than 140,000 individuals are injured in major truck accidents.

  • Every 16 minutes, someone is killed or injured in a collision involving a large truck.

  • Large truck crashes result in around two fatalities and over 60 injuries for every 100 million miles driven on American roadways.

  • Each year, fatalities in truck accidents cost the US economy more than $20 billion.

  • Over a quarter of all truck accidents result in injuries.

  • In 2008, large vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or more were involved in around 11% of fatal crashes. Truck accidents claimed the lives of 677 truck occupants that year.

The 415,000 reported truck accidents in 2015 resulted in:

  • over 4,000 deaths (about 1% of the total) and

  • Over 80,000 drivers and passengers have been injured (approximately 20 percent )

Although the total number of truck collisions in California fell from 2005 to 2009, the majority of these collisions happened in Los Angeles County.

Statistics on Truck Accidents Fatalities

  • The majority of deadly truck accidents involve two vehicles.

  • Human errors cause or contribute to about 90 percent of truck accidents (as opposed to equipment malfunctions, weather conditions, and other causes). This encompasses truck drivers' negligence, as well as the negligence of other drivers, passengers, motorcycle and bicycle users, and even pedestrians.

  • Approximately 75% of all truck accidents are caused by somebody other than truck drivers (typically, passenger car drivers).

  • Around 30% of all truck accidents are caused by driver weariness.

  • In 2007, almost 20% of commercial truck drivers who were involved in a fatal truck collision had at least one prior speeding conviction.

Types of Trucks and Common Associated Accidents

These are some of the most common truck types that can be involved in a truck accident:

By Chassis

  • A tractor (sometimes known as a "tractor cab") and a semi-trailer are combined in a semi-trailer truck. This vehicle is also known as a "semi-trailer truck," a "18-wheeler," a "eighteen-wheeler," a "big rig," a "rig," a "semi-truck," a "trailer truck," a "truck trailer," a "tractor-trailer," and a "semi-tractor trailer." A customized fifth-wheel attachment known as a "hitch" connects a semi-trailer to the tractor. The tractor carries the majority of the semi-trailer's weight. The tractor cab has no freight-carrying capacity without the semi-trailer.

  • A Doubles Truck (also known as "Twins" or "Twin Trailers") is a truck that consists of a tractor and two semi-trailers linked together by a converter dolly.

  • A rigid Truck (Straight Truck) is a truck with a body fixed to its chassis that transports freight. In contrast to a semi-truck, the tractor cab and trailer are one unit with no articulation between them (where a trailer is towed by a tractor).

Cargo Types

  • A rigid vehicle with attached cargo space in the shape of a cube is known as a box truck. These trucks are also known as "box vans," "cube vans," "rolling toasters," and "cube trucks."

  • A cement truck (also known as a concrete mixer truck) is a truck that is used to mix concrete and transport it to construction sites. The truck may continuously "mix" the material and keep it in a liquid state until delivery by spinning the drum.

  • Dry bulk items such as iron ore, plastic, resin pallets, coal, sugar, salt, cement, and other dry bulk items are transported using a dry bulk truck (usually a trailer).

  • When it comes to unloading, a dump truck is a truck with a cargo container that can tilt and/or open at the back. Dump trucks are often used to transport loose materials to and from building sites (e.g., gravel, sand, or demolition rubbish). Tippers are another name for these trucks.

  • A flatbed truck or trailer is one that has a completely flat body with no sides or roof. This design allows freight to be loaded from any direction. Flatbed trucks are used to convey huge freight or freight that is too large to fit into normal trucks or trailers.

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  • A garbage truck is a vehicle that collects and transports municipal and household solid waste to a waste management facility, such as a landfill.

  • A lowboy truck is one with a semi-trailer that has two drops in the height of its deck: one after the gooseneck and another before the rear wheels. Excavators, bulldozers, graders, loaders, asphalt rollers, and other heavy equipment can all be transported using this configuration.

  • A refrigerator truck (sometimes known as a "Reefer") is a vehicle intended to transport perishable foods at particular temperatures.

  • A tanker truck (or trailer) is a vehicle designed to deliver liquids or gases.

  • A delivery truck (e.g., UPS, FedEx, USPS) is a vehicle having a cargo space that is enclosed. The term "panel trucks" is also used to describe these trucks.

Cabin Body Type

  • Cab-over (also known as "cab forward") is a truck body design in which the cab is situated above (forward of) the front axle. Vertical "flat face" hoods are featured on these cabs. In Europe, the cab-over configuration is more widespread than in the United States.

  • A conventional cab is a truck cab in which the driver sits in front of the engine. Most pick-up trucks and passenger automobiles have this traditional arrangement.

Accidents involving trucks are caused by a variety of factors

Large trucks having a gross weight of more than 10,000 pounds are governed by complicated state and federal regulations. Truck drivers require a special commercial driver's license ("CDL"), which includes limited alcohol and drug testing for applicants and license holders.

Despite the laws, truck accidents remain a major cause of traffic fatalities in the United States. For example, there was a 10% increase in the number of fatal truck accidents over a 20-year period from 1992 to 2012.

Unsafe driving techniques and maneuvers, equipment failures, cargo overloading, and shifting, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and other factors all contributed to these crashes. Truck accident victims require the expertise of a Personal Injury Attorney in California who is familiar with the complex government laws.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) performed a thorough investigation in 2007. The topic of causation in massive truck crashes was investigated in this study. According to the report, the following factors contribute to heavy truck accidents:

Negligent Truck Maneuvers.

Unsafe moves, like auto accidents, are a primary cause of truck accidents. The following dangerous maneuvers might cause an accident in large 18-wheelers and even medium-duty trucks:

Accidents involving jackknifed trucks.

When the trailer swings from side to side or the tractor cab and semi-trailer glide toward one other like a folding knife, the 18-wheeler or semi-trailer truck faces a "jackknife" problem. When a semi-trailer jackknifes, it can collide with surrounding vehicles and even sweep them off the road, resulting in terrible and disastrous outcomes. Truck drivers who take basic safety precautions while driving their big rigs can avoid jackknife incidents.

Truck Rear-End Crashes and Tailgating

Following a passenger vehicle too closely. Large trucks take longer to stop and cover a greater distance to come to a complete stop. When a truck tailgates a passenger vehicle in front of it, the stopping space between the two vehicles is insufficient. When an 80,000-pound metal monster truck collides with a passenger vehicle from behind, the outcomes are usually terrible and terrible.

Wrong-way Truck Driving

Straying into oncoming traffic and creating head-on crashes A head-on collision between a huge truck and a small passenger car, van, or pick-up truck is virtually always fatal for the driver and passengers of the small passenger car, van, or pick-up truck, due to the huge weight differential between the two.

Sharp Turns

Sharp corners are not suitable for heavy trucks like 18-wheelers. These aren't race cars, and they're certainly not passenger automobiles. Simply said, these trucks are far too long and hefty. A quick turn can force the semi-trailer to roll over, resulting in a serious accident.

Truck Accidents Caused by Squeeze Play

Semi-trailer trucks and other 18-wheelers can have a length of up to 60 feet. As a result, truck drivers are accustomed to performing wide bends that begin with a modest movement in the opposite direction of the desired turn (e.g., moving to the left before making a right turn). As a result, a passenger vehicle may become trapped and "squeezed" between a curb and the truck, resulting in significant injuries or fatalities.


Drivers of 18-wheelers hauling lengthy semi-trailers must avoid making high-speed bends. A semi-trailer can easily swing into another lane or even wind up in the line of oncoming traffic if a large truck makes a high-speed turn.

Blind Spots

All four sides of a huge Big Rig have substantial blind areas. Truck drivers are aware of this notion, and whether making turns, changing lanes, or backing up, they must be vigilant and look for smaller vehicles. Passenger vehicle drivers, on the other hand, have a responsibility to keep out of these "no zones" or blind spaces, especially when trucks are conducting maneuvers like turns, lane changes, or reverse driving. "If you can't see the truck driver in the truck's side mirror, then the truck driver can't see you," goes the old adage for passenger vehicle drivers.