The number of truck accidents in North Carolina and around the country has risen quite a bit, and a comprehensive study from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests that truck driver errors and recklessness are largely to blame when lives are lost. The federal safety agencies studied 120,000 fatal truck accidents that took place over a 33-month period, and the truck driver was determined to have been at fault more than two-thirds of the time when multiple vehicles were involved.
The Large Truck Crash Causation Study was based on accident reports from 68,000 fatal commercial vehicle crashes involving truck drivers who had made an error of some kind. Performance issues, such as overcompensating or panicking in emergency situations, were cited as the cause of the accident about 9 percent of the time, but reckless or negligent behavior like speeding, using cellphones while behind the wheel and remaining on duty despite being dangerously fatigued was determined to have caused 78 percent of the crashes.
Over a third of the fatal commercial truck accidents studied were caused by truck drivers who followed other vehicles too closely, ignored posted speed limits or made other poor decisions, and more than one in four involved inattention or distraction of one form or another. Nonperformance issues, such as a truck driver falling asleep while behind the wheel, were determined to have caused 12 percent of the fatal accidents studied.
The type of data that this study was based on can also be used by experienced personal injury attorneys to establish liability in truck accident lawsuits, and it may provide crucial evidence even if law enforcement decided not to file charges against the truck driver involved. This is because civil plaintiffs must only convince a jury that their allegations are more likely true than not and not have to prove them beyond a reasonable doubt.