Causes of Large Truck Crashes

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, truck driver factors were the critical causes of 87 percent of large truck crashes between April 2001 and Dec. 2003. The FMCSA reviewed data from a representative sample of serious crashes during that time, coding them for the critical event leading up to the accident’s inevitability and the critical reason that caused the event and resulting collision. There were multiple types of negligent driving behaviors that were found in the study. In addition, 10 percent of the trucks had defects that caused the accidents. A Minnesota personal injury lawyer may help his or her client to identify the correct legal claims to file under theories of personal injury, vicarious liability, wrongful death or products liability, depending on the relevant facts.


According to the FMCSA, 120,000 large truck collisions happened between April 2001 and Dec. 2003. Together with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the FMCSA randomly selected 963 truck crashes that resulted in at least one injury or fatality out of the total for further study. They found that driver factors accounted for 87 percent of the causes, defective or poorly maintained parts accounted for 10 percent and three percent resulted from environmental or road conditions. Several critical events leading up to the accidents were identified:

  • Trucks crossing out of their lanes at 32 percent
  • Trucks losing control at 29 percent
  • Trucks rear-ending vehicles in their own lanes at 22 percent


The agencies identified multiple driver problems that led to the identified critical events and resulting truck crashes. These were divided into non-performance, recognition, decision and performance categories. The non-performance factors included drivers falling asleep, suffering a physical impairment or having a seizure or heart attack. Recognition problems included distracted driving, failures to observe and inattention. Decision-making problems included speeding, not properly judging the speed of other vehicles and following too closely. Finally, the performance errors included overcompensating, panicking and exercising poor control over the truck.


When a truck driver seriously injures people in an accident, a Minnesota personal injury lawyer will review the case to determine liability. The attorney may then draft a complaint naming all of the potential defendants. The defendants may include the truck’s driver, his or her employer and others. Employers may be held to be accountable through a theory called vicarious liability. This may help to ensure that victims are fully compensated for their losses. If you are in need of a consultation call, 507-200-8959.

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