Accidents involving semitrucks happen for many reasons. Commercial vehicles are large, making them harder to maneuver and more susceptible to road hazards. Trucks may not undergo sufficient maintenance or may have faulty parts.
However, accidents are usually the fault of the truck driver. It may be due to inexperience and lack of proper training, but often the cause lies with one of these four types of driver impairment.
Unfortunately, some truckers get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol or using drugs. These substances lead to worsened judgment, coordination and reaction time. Drugs can also cause hallucinations or encourage reckless behavior. Marijuana is currently still illegal in Missouri, but if it becomes legal, its contribution to crashes may increase due to incorrect understanding of the safety and laws regarding cannabis. Just because a substance is legal does not mean it is safe to drive after using it.
Commercial drivers work long hours and often feel pressure to meet unrealistic deadlines. Combined with driving alone on long stretches of road, this work environment leads to severe fatigue. Drowsy driving just as dangerous as drunk driving and was responsible for at least 72,000 accidents in 2013, reports the CDC.
3. Health problems
Truckers may suffer from medical conditions that affect their ability to drive. For example, they may have a sleep disorder, experience seizures or take medications with side effects that are dangerous to driving. Sleep deprivation and alcohol use can exacerbate health problems. Mental illness and anger issues are factors, as well.
A growing cause of large-truck accidents is driver distraction. While using a cellphone is the most notorious culprit, others according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration include:
- Watching external surroundings
- Adjusting vehicle controls
- Eating and drinking
- Reaching for objects
Any driver, no matter how safe and experienced in other ways, may fall victim to these actions. Succumbing to distractions can be easy due to the nature of the job.