A truck accident is an unexpected and unfortunate event that no one foresees when getting behind the wheel. Nobody begins their journey with the intention of ending the day in a collision with a large trailer truck. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of motorists to avoid accidents, they continue to happen on a daily basis.
In 2022 alone, the Missouri State Highway Patrol recorded 15,005 truck accidents. This trend of accidents involving commercial vehicles has remained relatively steady since 2002. Despite drivers’ good intentions when they take the wheel, unforeseen circumstances can lead to these incidents.
With this in mind, we’ll delve into the five primary causes of truck accidents in Missouri.
Driver error is the primary cause of truck accidents in both Missouri and nationwide. Truckers often endure long hours behind the wheel, leading to instances of distracted and fatigued driving, which significantly contributes to these accidents. Shockingly, in 2022 alone, distracted driving led to 84 fatalities in Missouri.
Some regions, like St. Louis, are particularly susceptible to this type of accident. Over the period from 2016 to 2020, St. Louis saw eleven fatalities attributed to distracted driving. Notably, St. Louis County had a high distracted driving crash rate of 18.6 incidents per 1,000 residents.
In such circumstances, seeking the assistance of a qualified St. Louis trucking accident lawyer is advisable to ensure you receive the appropriate compensation for your case.
Poor Vehicle Maintenance
Truckers cover thousands of miles daily, subjecting their rigs to harsh road conditions and wear and tear. When combined with infrequent maintenance, it becomes a matter of when, not if, a truck will break down. Truck equipment failures are harder to manage than those of regular vehicles, posing a significant risk to truckers and other motorists.
Equipment Failure Consequences
Various critical components of a tractor-trailer are susceptible to failure. These components include brakes, tires, wheels, steering systems, trailer attachments, suspension, body, doors, hood, mirrors, warning lights, and transmissions.
Failures in these areas can result in accidents, such as tires and wheels coming off at high speeds or brake failures leading to collisions. Additionally, steering malfunctions can severely affect maneuverability and lead to further incidents. While not all malfunctions can be predicted, routine maintenance helps prevent a substantial number of accidents as noted by TorHoerman law.
Approximately 40% of fatal accidents in Missouri result from speeding, according to state crash data analysis. These speeds are considered unreasonable or unsafe. Excessive speed reduces a driver’s ability to stop and navigate safely, escalating collision severity.
This is particularly concerning when a collision involves a vehicle and a bicycle or pedestrian. Higher speeds are directly correlated with an increased likelihood of severe or fatal injuries to the other party involved.
When law enforcement officers respond to serious accidents, they consider various factors, including whether either driver violated traffic laws. Excessive speed not only can result in a citation but may also entail personal responsibility for the accident.
Weather conditions significantly impact truck accidents in Missouri, especially due to the heavier loads and longer stopping distances of trucks. When faced with adverse weather conditions, truckers find it challenging to maintain control, increasing the risk of their trailers jackknifing, hydroplaning, or tipping over.
In 2021, Missouri witnessed a total of 193 commercial vehicle accidents occurring in foggy or misty weather, underscoring the weather-related challenges these drivers face.
To reduce these risks, it’s crucial for drivers to exercise caution and maintain extra space when following a truck in inclement weather conditions. This precautionary measure can help mitigate potential accidents.
Improper Loading Technique
Properly loading cargo is of paramount importance for ensuring truck safety. Unfortunately, adherence to these loading guidelines is sometimes overlooked by warehouse personnel. This negligence can result in truck malfunctions, primarily due to overloading. In the most severe instances, improperly loaded cargo can spill onto the roadway, posing a significant hazard to other vehicles.
Trucks, with a gross vehicle weight exceeding 10,000 pounds, can weigh 20 to 30 times more than the average car. What’s even more concerning is that when these trucks are fully laden, it takes them significantly longer to come to a complete stop. In fact, it can be 20-40 percent longer compared to regular cars.
This disparity becomes even more pronounced on slippery or wet road surfaces or when the truck’s brakes are inadequately maintained. Due to their immense size and weight, accidents involving these colossal vehicles can be devastating, often resulting in permanent injuries.
Vehicle Safety Requirements for Missouri Trucks
Commercial vehicles must adhere to specific regulations and standards to ensure road safety:
- Comply with height, length, and weight restrictions based on the traveled route.
- Display the legal name of the carrier and the US DOT identification number when parked.
- Maintain thorough inspection reports and retain records for one year.
- Drivers must be at least 18 years old for intrastate commerce or 21 years old for interstate and hazardous materials transport.
- Drivers must be well-versed in safe cargo loading, unloading, blocking, and bracing.
- All drivers must undergo a state Department of Transportation physical exam and possess a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL).
For more detailed information on these regulations, you can consult the Missouri Trucking Guide provided by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). Additionally, you can find specific size and weight regulations established by the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Truck accidents in Missouri, like elsewhere, are often the result of a combination of factors. These accidents, though unintended, are a stark reality on our roads, evident by the annual surge in reported incidents.
Recognizing common causes and adhering to strict safety regulations for commercial vehicles are crucial for mitigating truck accident risks.
As motorists, our responsibility is to remain vigilant and maintain safe distances when sharing the road with these massive rigs. We must exercise caution in our pursuit of safer highways and the prevention of tragedies.