Anyone can cause a car crash, even if they have historically been very safe at the wheel. The average commercial driver is likely safer on the road than those with basic driver’s licenses. After all, federal regulations impose stricter performance standards on commercial drivers, and they also need to obtain special commercial licenses that require both theoretical knowledge and practical experience managing a large and unwieldy commercial vehicle.
The extra training and licensing help reduce the likelihood of commercial vehicles causing major collisions. However, those driving semi-trucks and other large vehicles still frequently make mistakes that cause crashes with passenger vehicles. These are three of the top causes of such collisions.
1. A bad driving decision
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reviews information about all commercial crashes to identify trends and set effective safety policies. According to a long-term analysis of commercial collisions caused by professional drivers, making the wrong decision at the wheel is the top contributing factor to such collisions.
Roughly 38% of the crashes caused by commercial vehicles are the result of the driver following someone too closely or driving at speeds too fast given the road conditions.
Distraction is a serious concern in commercial transportation, as drivers might try to eat at the wheel or text while driving. Distraction is a leading cause of non-recognition mistakes, meaning that a driver doesn’t notice something in time to respond appropriately. Such failures account for another 28% of the collisions caused by commercial trucks.
The third reason that commercial drivers cause catastrophic crashes has to do with them being unable to perform their jobs, which is to blame for 12% of such crashes. Frequently, non-performance results from a driver falling asleep at the wheel. However, non-performance can also involve someone having a stroke kind of heart attack or allergic reaction while driving that renders them unconscious or unable to control the vehicle as they usually would.
The mistakes and failures of commercial drivers often lead to catastrophic consequences for those traveling in the smaller vehicles that they hit. Learning more about what causes commercial vehicle crashes can help other drivers limit their risk of injury or death on the road.