Semi-trucks are so big and heavy that professionals must undergo special training to drive them safely. Someone with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) is subject to federal traffic rules in addition to state traffic laws.
Self-employed commercial drivers and transportation companies need to invest in six-figure liability insurance policies on semi-trucks. That coverage can make a major difference when semi-trucks collide with passenger vehicles, as those collisions often cause devastating damage to smaller vehicles and possibly major injuries to their occupants.
Motorists who understand the underlying cause of these crashes may feel more confident about sharing the road with big trucks. What is often to blame for commercial vehicle collisions?
According to research into commercial crashes performed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), people in smaller vehicles are responsible for just under half of the crashes that occur between passenger vehicles and commercial trucks. Many of these crashes occur because people travel in the blind spots around commercial trucks or cut them off in traffic. Drivers can reduce their risk by being more aware of their visibility and driving decisions around semi-trucks.
Commercial driver decisions
When looking at crashes where the commercial vehicle is at fault, one issue stands out as the most common. Drivers making the wrong decision while operating a commercial truck are responsible for 38% of the crashes caused by semi-trucks. After that, recognition errors or the failure to properly observe surroundings is the second leading issue contributing to crashes.
Environmental factors, like inclement weather, are to blame for a very small portion of collisions. One factor outside of a driver’s control has a stronger association with commercial collisions. Specifically, issues with commercial vehicles are the underlying cause of approximately 10% of the crashes caused by semi-trucks. Commercial drivers often rely on their employers or third-party service providers to maintain their trucks and have very little control over that process.
Likewise, drivers in smaller vehicles have very little influence over most of these risk factors. They can improve their own safety habits and learn about what options they have if a commercial vehicle causes a crash. Learning about what contributes to crash risk may help people minimize their chances of being involved in a major collision.