What Commonly Causes Truck Accidents?

Posted by: Feb 12, 2021Sabbeth Law Blog

Nearly every year in Vermont, large trucks are involved in fatal crashes that forever change the lives of those they impact. While some truck accidents occur as a result of factors that are hard to foresee, the reality is that the vast majority of truck accidents are preventable. At the law office of Sabbeth Law, we believe that understanding the root causes of truck accidents is key in truck accident prevention. Not only does knowing the common causes allow for information campaigns to be developed for the purpose of  reducing the prevalence of truck accidents, but it may also provide information about liability should a truck accident occur. To learn more about the common causes of truck accidents in Vermont, as well as how our commercial motor vehicle lawyers can help, please reach out to us today.

Top Causes of Truck Accidents

The Large Truck Crash Causation Study, which was conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), broke the causes of truck accidents in two three overarching categories: Driver, vehicle, and environment. Data from that study shows that a driver’s actions were the critical reason for a crash in 87 percent of total crashes studied for the report; vehicle problems contributed to 10 percent of crashes; and the environment was a critical reason for a crash in three percent of cases.

  • Driver. Driver behavior contributing to a crash was further broken down into four other categories, and each was assigned a percentage based on how often this behavior was a critical reason for a truck crash. The four driver behavior identified in the study include:
    • Non-performance. Non-performance means exactly what it sounds like: the driver did not perform as a result of being incapacitated by something, such as a heart attack or falling asleep at the wheel. 
    • Recognition. Recognition means that the driver failed to recognize the situation that preceded the crash as a result of being distracted or inattentive. 
    • Decision. A decision error means that the driver actively made a poor decision that contributed to the crash, such as following another vehicle too closely or driving too fast for conditions. 
    • Performance. A performance error is similarly to a decision error, except that it happens in response to something else. For example, the driver may have overcorrected if they started to slip, resulting in the crash. 

  • Vehicle. Outside of drivers’ errors, the second-leading cause of truck accidents is vehicle defects. The FMCSA cites vehicle issues such as brake problems, cargo shifts, and tire problems as some of the top causes of truck accidents.  


  • Environment. An environment condition refers to something that’s happening outside of the truck and outside of any drivers’ control. For example, roadway conditions, such as potholes or sharp turns, or weather conditions, such as snow or ice on the roadway or strong winds, contributed to about three percent of truck accidents studied. 

Contributing Factors

The factors listed above were the “critical events” that led to the crashes studied. The FMCSA further identified contributing factors that led to crashes. The top 10 contributing factors identified by the FMCSA were traffic flow interruptions, brake problems, traveling too fast for conditions, unfamiliarity with roadway, inadequate surveillance, fatigue, prescription drug use, over-the-counter drug use, being required to stop before a crash (such as at a stoplight), and roadway problems.

Of course, it’s not only truck drivers who are to blame for truck accidents; the actions of the drivers of passenger cars can contribute, too. Following too closely, cutting off a truck, hanging out in a truck’s blind spots, illegally passing, and trying to pass a truck on the right when the truck is making a right-hand turn can all lead to truck accidents. 

Call Our Vermont Truck Accident Attorneys if You’ve Been in a Crash

If you’ve been in a truck accident in Vermont, you need an advocate on your side who knows how to investigate and build your claim and who will be committed to working hard for you. At the office of Sabbeth Law, our truck accident lawyers have been selected to the Association of Truck Accident Lawyers, AAJ Trucking Litigation Group, and our firm was recently selected to National Trial Lawyers Top Truck Accident Lawyers. When a crash happens and we get a call from a client, we act fast to gather evidence. We’ll get to the scene of the accident, send out spoliation of evidence letters, and start immediately gathering evidence to make determinations about liability. We will try to beat the insurance company to the scene, and we will hire the best experts throughout the nation.

We get seven- and eight-figure results and are built for these types of cases. We will go to you if you are unable to travel to us. Call us today for your free consultation.