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Causes & Effects Of Truck Accidents in California

Updated: Nov 23, 2022

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 truck accidents have the potential to be extremely destructive, resulting in fatalities and catastrophic long-term or permanent injuries. According to statistics, most California truck accident casualties are occupants of compact passenger vehicles.

Victims involve in a truck accident may demand special expertise, protection, and assistance from a California Truck Accident Lawyer.

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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. Most 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 California Truck Accident Lawyer.

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 several safety rules.

For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ("FMCSA"), a United States Department of Transportation division, 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 various rules, including drug tests, shift hours limits, and medical inspections.

Consider one of our prescreened California Lawyers in your California Attorney Search.

Statistics on California Truck Accidents

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 California 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 driver's negligence and 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.

Different 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. 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 (whereas a trailer is towed by a tractor).

Cargo Types

  • A rigid vehicle with attached cargo space in a cube shape 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 liquid 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).

  • 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 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.

  • 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 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) has enclosed cargo space. 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.

How Much Value Does A Truck Lose After An Accident?

If you're the driver in the accident, you might also suffer financial and emotional loss from your physical injuries. Therefore, knowing how much property is damaged or lost is crucial in collecting settlements if you're the truck owner.

A truck's value depreciates to 20-40% after an accident. This will count as property damage or financial loss should you be in an accident in California.

commercial truck accident

12 Common Reasons For California Truck Accidents

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

Despite California truck driving 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 California Truck Accident Lawyer who is familiar with the complex government California truck driving 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:

1. 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:

1.1. 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. A semi-trailer jackknife 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.

1.2. 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.

1.3. 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.

1.4. Sharp Turns

Sharp corners are not suitable for heavy trucks like 18-wheelers. These don'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.

1.5. Truck Accidents Caused by Squeeze Play

Semi-trailer trucks and other 18-wheelers can be up to 60 feet long. 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.

1.6. "Off-tracking"

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.

1.7. 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. On the other hand, passenger vehicle drivers are responsible for keeping 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.

2. Underride Crashes

Horrible incidents occur when a passenger automobile collides with the side of an 18-wheeler's semi-trailer and is crushed beneath it. The car's top can be severely twisted or even entirely severed. Underride collisions are virtually invariably fatal, with over 200 people killed yearly.

3. Speeding

According to statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ("FMCSA"), speeding is the leading cause of truck accidents. Large and heavy trucks, unlike smaller passenger cars, require more time and distance to come to a complete stop. Even under ideal weather circumstances, stopping a speeding truck quickly enough to avoid a collision will be difficult.

When truckers exceed the speed limit while tailgating or in adverse weather (e.g., on wet, snowy, or icy roads), terrible accidents can occur, ranging from rear-end collisions to jackknife incidents.

4. Inattentive Truck Driving and Distractions

According to industry regulations, commercial truck drivers are not permitted to use smartphones, telephones, or other hand-held devices while driving. Despite California truck driving laws, some truckers continue to text and e-mail.

Daydreaming and a lack of focus can cause a truck driver to lose sight of the road and his surroundings for a short period of time. Because of trucks' tremendous weight and size, even a little distraction can have disastrous results.

5. Driving a truck while tired or drowsy

Truck drivers get weary and sluggish due to sleep deprivation, which frequently results in rear-end incidents, head-on collisions, dangerous lane changes, and incidents in which trucks run off the road. According to new statistical research sponsored by the FMCSA and the American Trucking Associations, over 28% of truck drivers suffer from sleep apnea, a potentially life-threatening illness in which sufferers cease breathing regularly while sleeping. This syndrome induces daytime fatigue and increases the risk of crashing dramatically.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ("FMCSA") has rigorous rules about how many hours a truck driver can drive without stopping. The "Hours of Service" or "HOS" Regulations are the name of these rules.

6. Driving Trucks Under the Influence

It is not required to be completely inebriated to be impaired. Even at very low levels of blood alcohol content ("BAC"), alcohol intoxication can impair a truck driver's judgment and reaction time. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ("FMCSA") holds professionals with a commercial driver's license (CDL), such as bus and truck drivers, to a far higher standard than drivers of non-commercial vehicles when it comes to alcohol impairment and driving.

Truck drivers must submit to frequent alcohol and drug testing as part of the requirements for getting and maintaining a commercial driver's license (CDL). Trucking companies that employ truck drivers are required by law to have a drug and alcohol testing policy. Truck driver intoxication was once the primary cause of truck accidents and related fatalities.

The number of truck accidents caused by drunk driving has decreased considerably due to the federal and state governments' strong implementation of alcohol consumption safety standards. According to statistical research conducted by the Insurance Institute for Traffic Safety and other transportation experts, around 1% of all truck accidents are presently caused by the truck driver's intoxication.

7. Driving Trucks under the Influence of Drugs

Alcohol-related truck accidents are uncommon thanks to tight testing rules and enforcement. On the other hand, the use of illegal narcotics by truck drivers is on the rise. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's ("FMCSA") Hours of Service standards limit the number of consecutive hours that a truck driver can drive without taking a break.

On the other hand, truck drivers use narcotics to stay awake for longer periods, travel longer miles, and earn more money. The Insurance Institute for Traffic Safety studied 18-wheeler trucks on interstate highways, and the findings were alarming. Marijuana was the most commonly used drug amongst truck drivers (15%), followed by non-prescription stimulant substances (12%), prescription stimulants (5%), and cocaine (5%). (2 percent ). Alcohol was discovered in the blood of less than 1% of truck drivers.

Amphetamines, Methamphetamine ("meth"), and other stimulants Truck drivers overlook the fact that stimulant medicines, both over-the-counter and prescription, might make them drowsy and damage their driving ability. Prescription medicines, especially when abused, are significantly more harmful in this regard.

If you have been injured because of a DUI, you may also contact one of our California Personal Injury Attorneys to claim damages.

8. Trucks delivering hazardous materials

Trucks delivering hazardous materials are involved in about 5,000 incidents each year, with over 200 of these HazMat truck accidents resulting in fatalities. As liquid cargo spills, it can result in several incidents, from drivers swerving to avoid slipping into the spilled liquid to those who skid out of control when their vehicles lose traction on the suddenly wet and slick road.

Spilled hazardous materials can be lethal and cause serious injuries such as thermal and chemical burns, hearing loss, poisoning, amputation, and exposure to cancer-causing chemicals, among other things.

Hazardous substance leaks can cause severe environmental and property damage, in addition to the danger of injury to drivers and passengers. For example, when radioactive or poisonous materials seep into the ground, they can contaminate water supplies and pose long-term health risks to anyone living in the affected area. Toxic vapors can also cause serious respiratory issues and other health problems.

9. Work Zone Warnings are insufficient.

Work zones must adhere to correct design procedures during highway construction or maintenance periods. Work zones on highways must consider various issues, such as the longer distance that trucks must stop, posted speed limits in the affected section of the route, anticipated traffic conditions and congestion, and other reasons.

Aside from the barriers and space that separate highway workers from the traffic, proper signs and cautions must be posted to provide drivers (especially truck drivers) enough time to slow down. If work zones are not set up by applicable safety requirements and a truck accident occurs, the companies hired to do highway maintenance or construction may be held accountable for the accidents and the damages that result.

10. Longer Combination Vehicles (LCVs).

LCVs are more challenging to run than ordinary 18-wheelers / semi-trailer trucks or even twin trailers due to their size and length. Because these vehicles are prone to rollovers, jackknife accidents, and circumstances where drivers lose control and cannot regain control, they are extremely dangerous.

11. Failures of Trucking Equipment

Human mistakes cause the great majority of truck accidents. On the other hand, truck equipment problems can cause or contribute to crashes in some situations.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ("IIHS") refers to research completed in 2010 on truck inspections following collisions. The analysis found that: (a) nearly half of all trucks involved in accidents had at least one mechanical problem that was in violation of FMCSA requirements, and (b) over a third of all inspected trucks had at least one mechanical issue that required the vehicle to be taken out of service. Either faulty parts or poor maintenance causes truck equipment failures.

Manufacturers or distributors might be listed as defendants in a product liability lawsuit in cases of equipment malfunctions and defective parts and components.

12. Inspections of trucks that aren't done properly.

According to current FMCSA data, 23% of over 2 million inspected trucks had severe technical and safety issues. Despite the best efforts of the FMCSA and other regulatory agencies to inspect trucks and remove them from the road until they meet safety rules, many dangerous and badly maintained vehicles continue to cause catastrophic incidents and fatalities.

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How To Keep California Truck Accidents at Bay?

Several safe driving techniques may aid drivers in avoiding truck collisions. The following is a summary of some safe practices:

1. Truck Blind Spots (or "No-Zones") should be avoided.

Many people believe that truck drivers must have a better view of the road because they sit so high in their cabs. This assumption is incorrect. Large trucks, particularly 18-wheelers and semi-trucks, have considerable blind spots (also known as "No-ones") in four areas: in front, behind, and on both sides of the truck.

The Front No-Zone stretches about 20 feet in front of the cab, and an automobile can easily become "invisible" in that space.

The Rear No-Zone region is enormous, spanning nearly 200 feet behind the truck. When a passenger vehicle enters a truck's rear blind area, the risk is multiplied: not only is the smaller vehicle "lost" for the truck driver but the car's front view is impeded, reducing reaction time in the event of a quick stop.

Rear-view mirrors are not standard on trucks. As a result, truck drivers must rely on their side-view mirrors, which can be as large as 25 inches. Although today's trucks can be outfitted with cameras, this is still insufficient to allow truck drivers to see all around them. Motorists must always avoid truck No-Zones.

2. Trucks should never be followed too closely.

A truck driver will not be able to notice a passenger vehicle behind it unless the distance between them exceeds 200 feet due to the vehicles' large rear blind areas. An 18-wheeler may be forced to stop quickly and abruptly for various reasons. A collision, a person or an animal attempting to cross the roadway, a tire blow-out or mechanical issue, or a major obstruction on the road are all possibilities.

Whatever the reason, if a large truck decelerates quickly and a passenger vehicle follows too closely behind it, the passenger vehicle will definitely collide with the back of the truck. Low-passenger cars may end up entirely squeezing beneath the truck chassis or semi-trailer. The outcome is usually terrible. Never, ever tailgate a truck! When driving behind a truck, it's a good idea to maintain a safe distance that allows you to see the vehicle's side-view mirrors on all sides.

The National Safety Council advises a minimum 3-second following distance behind any vehicle, especially a truck. Pick any point of reference or a marker on the side of the road when following a truck, such as a tree or a road sign.

3. Never drive too close in front of it.

Large trucks, such as 18-wheelers and semi-trailers, take substantially more time and distance to come to a complete stop than passenger vehicles. Smaller vehicle drivers must constantly ensure that there is enough space between the back of their vehicle and the front of the truck behind them.

Above all, don't cut in front of a truck. A blunder of this magnitude can be disastrous. A commercial truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and smash a passenger car if it collides with it. This isn't to say that drivers should avoid passing trucks or driving in front of them.

4. Passing trucks with caution on windy days.

Strong side gusts can blow a car off the road. Strong gusts make tall and large 18-wheelers even riskier. The center of gravity of a truck is substantially greater than that of a smaller passenger vehicle. A semi-trailer's huge flat side surface also serves as a "sail." As a result, a strong wind can easily overturn a semi-truck, particularly when it is empty.

On windy days, smaller vehicle drivers must take caution when attempting to pass trucks. Leave a lane between your vehicle and the truck when passing a truck on the freeway. It is not a good idea to pass this semi-trailer if it looks to be swaying from one side to the other.

Find Prescreened California Truck Accident Lawyers Near Me is a California Bar Association Certified Lawyer Referral Service that can refer you to the right California Truck Accident Attorneys best fit to handle your truck accident case. Contact us on our 24/7 lawyer referral hotline at 1-661-310-7999 or complete our inquiry submission form for a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION.


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