West Virginia motorists share their roads with thousands of commercial trucks every day. There are roughly 15 million big trucks in regular use on American roads, and 70 percent of all freight transported in the United States makes at least some portion of its journey by truck. A fully loaded tractor-trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and traveling adjacent to one puts regular commuters in passenger vehicles at risk due to the enormous disparity in size and weight.
In the last decade, the number of commercial truck accidents in the United States has increased by 20 percent. A recent study examined data from 120,000 truck accidents to ascertain the most common causes of big truck crashes. The Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) was a joint project of the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The latter is responsible for promulgating safety regulations for all large commercial vehicles used for interstate commerce while the former deals with all categories of highway safety.
The LTCCS revealed the most common denominator in tractor-trailer crashes to be truck driver mistakes. Of the 68,000 crashes in which the truck driver was deemed at fault, the most commonly cited category was bad decision making which resulted in mistakes such as following too closely or driving at speeds inappropriate for traffic and roadway conditions. Driver failures to timely recognize traffic hazards were the next most common mistake. Distracted driving is a major contributor to this category. The third most commonly cited error was simple non-performance of driving duties because of falling asleep, medication issues or health-related emergencies.
In the aftermath of an accident the most important thing is to get proper medical treatment. After emergency medical needs are met, consulting a truck crash lawyer may provide victims with direction regarding the best way to hold negligent trucking companies responsible for damages they cause.