Leading Causes of 18-Wheeler Truck Rollover Accidents
Truck Rollover Crashes Caused by Careless or Untrained Driving
Distracted Driving – One of the leading causes of rollover accidents is distracted driving. In 2020, 3,142 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes caused by distracted drivers. Truckers have a responsibility to operate their trucks safely. Distracted driving reduces a trucker’s reaction time, preventing evasive action and forcing mistakes. Because of increased stopping distance and the risk of rolling over, simple driving mistakes can be catastrophic for 18-wheelers. To prevent avoidable accidents, truck drivers must obey all rules of the road and remain alert and attentive throughout the duration of the trip. Some of the most common distractions include:
- Cell phone use
- Adjusting music or controls
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Zoning out
Fatigued Driving – Another common cause of rollover accidents is fatigued driving. In the United States, trucking is considered an on-the-clock business. Truckers are subject to strict schedules, which can lead to drivers sacrificing sleep for road time. Sleep deprivation leads to slower reaction time and, in certain circumstances, a loss of consciousness.
Long-haul trips, where the driver is usually awake for longer periods, account for 65% of all fatal truck crashes. Drivers themselves list fatigue as number seven among the ten factors that cause accidents—brake problems are number one, and inattention, which may occur with sleep loss, is number 10. No matter what results in tired truckers, the fact remains that drowsy driving reduces reaction time and creates a higher risk of rollover accidents.
Driver Training – Trucking companies are responsible for training their employees on safe driving practices and ensuring drivers adhere to such training on the roads. Because of the size of an 18-wheeler, trucks are temperamental and must be operated with extreme caution, especially in changing and unfamiliar conditions. A trucking company that fails to train drivers on safe practices creates a greater risk of accident and injury to the driver and motoring public.
Truck Rollover Crashes Caused by Poor Maintenance and Repair
The second major cause of truck rollover accidents is poor maintenance and repair. Developing and adhering to a maintenance schedule will help root out minor mechanical issues and prevent major issues from surfacing on the roadway. The three pillars of preventative maintenance are:
- Perform systematic inspections (daily pre-trip and post-trip inspections)
- Repair mechanical issues before travel, no matter how insignificant the issue appears
- Invest in a scheduled maintenance program to keep your truck mechanically sound and in safe working order
Routine maintenance and repair is the surest way of preventing mechanical failures that can lead to serious rollover accidents. For instance, many rollover accidents occur when the truck’s braking system fails, and the driver is forced to take evasive action to avoid hitting other motorists. According to one study by the FMCSA, 54% of truck rollover accidents involved a brake defect of some kind. Inspecting and repairing the braking system before travel limits this risk, saving innocent lives.
Additionally, tire blowouts often result in rollover accidents. While some blowouts cannot be prevented with routine maintenance and repair, others can. Simple tire inspections performed on a routine basis – as required by law – limit the risk of sudden tire blowouts.
Truck Rollover Crashes Caused by Shifting Cargo
Tractor-trailers pulling tankers or other cargo have a higher center of gravity, making them more susceptible to rollovers. Any sudden shift in the truck’s load can cause the truck to roll over. A partially loaded truck can also increase the likelihood of a rollover accident. Spare room in a truck’s trailer allows cargo to shift suddenly, disrupting the truck’s center of gravity. The FMCSA estimates that 63% of rollover accidents involving tanker trucks are partially loaded at the time of the crash.
Given the risks posed by a truck’s cargo, shipping companies, trucking companies, and truck drivers must take preventive action to reduce the risk of cargo shifting during transport.
Truck Rollover Crashes Caused by Poor Road and Weather Conditions
Finally, road and highway conditions can greatly affect truck drivers’ control over a truck. Truckers must be trained in proper technique and safe driving practices depending on the conditions. Especially dangerous conditions include:
- Limited visibility and high winds
- Wet and slick roads
- Poorly maintained roads with potholes or debris
- Steep inclines or declines
- Sharp curves and winding roads
Truck drivers must be proactive and drive defensively, always looking out for any possible risk factor that could cause a rollover. Poor road and weather conditions are a reality that all drivers must face, and the trucking industry must adequately account for such conditions to prevent rollover accidents.
Truck Rollover Crashes Caused by Steer Axle Tire Failures and Blowouts
Sudden tire failures routinely lead to truck rollover accidents. Steer axle tires are located on the front steer axle of an 18-wheeler and are primarily responsible for truck handling and performance. A sudden steer axle tire failure creates a sudden emergency that even the most experienced drivers cannot navigate safely. When a steer axle tire fails, the truck pulls hard to the side of the failure, often causing the driver to lose complete control over the vehicle. These highly dangerous accidents often result in serious injury and death to the driver and passing motorists.
Our Houston 18-wheeler truck accident lawyers are prepared to fight for you. Call us at (281) 801-5617 or contact us online to learn how we can help you recover compensation after a truck accident.