Every year in the United States, thousands of big rig accidents occur that cause expensive property damage, serious injuries, and even fatalities. While it is common to think of these incidents as accidents, based on the actual causes many of these events should instead be termed big rig crashes or big rig wrecks.
The main difference in these terms is that accidents are unintentional and unavoidable. On the other hand, many crashes are completely avoidable and not actually accidents.
Accident Vs. Crash?
The term accident is commonly used to describe any incident that involves a vehicle collision. In reality, the definition of an accident as an unavoidable, chance event is actually different than what U.S. safety organizations like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) find to be the root cause of a large number of big rig crashes.
According to NHTSA, only 10% of big rig wrecks are determined to be caused purely by chance, while the other 90% are caused by driver error, mechanical failure, and other preventable actions. In other words, in 9/10 of all cases, someone is at fault for the crash, meaning it was not actually an “accident.”
Preventable Big Rig Crash Causes
True big rig accidents aside, there are many preventable causes of thousands of truck crashes happening on U.S. highways every year. A large percentage of the time, the driver was cited for being at-fault.
Driving errors caused by poor reaction time, poor recognition of a hazardous condition, and other fatigue-related errors are common, as are mistakes caused by distracted driving as well as drug and alcohol use. Poor driving habits and driver inexperience resulting from inadequate operator training adds to the list of causes.
Driver errors and lack of training are not the only reasons why these incidents happen. Many of these events occur due to a mechanical failure that is caused by insufficient truck maintenance in a large percentage of cases. Trucks that do not receive required maintenance increase the risk of big rig wrecks exponentially.
Money As A Role in So-Called Accidents
A significant common denominator of 90% of all big rig crashes is money. Training, proper maintenance, and hiring qualified drivers all cost money, sometimes more than a commercial carrier or driver is willing to invest. Through lax hiring practices, unwillingness to provide adequate training, and a blind eye turned toward safety violations including driver work hours, many trucking companies put cost-savings over safety every day.
Even as stricter safety laws come into existence every year, many companies continue to skirt the rules by keeping unsafe trucks and drivers on the road, which in essence allows them to cause more wrecks.
It is important to understand the difference between truly avoidable big rig accidents that happen by chance and what are really big rig wrecks. Costly collisions - and the devastating injuries and fatalities they cause - are definitely avoidable. Doing so requires commercial carriers to become more serious about safety and work to prevent the mistakes and failures that lead to most of today’s big rig crashes!
Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP
Robert W. Hildebrand, Attorney at Law
J. Daniel Wilson, Attorney at Law
7830 Broadway, Suite 122
Pearland TX 77581
Phone: (281) 410-5810