Common Causes of Big Truck Accidents

Commercial trucks, also known as semi-trucks or 18-wheelers, are one of the most common modes of transporting goods in the United States. Every day, thousands of big trucks pass through Pennsylvania and the Pittsburgh area, and all of these large commercial trucks inevitably share the road with smaller vehicles. Big truck accidents are caused by many different factors, and recognizing the common causes of truck accidents may help you avoid situations in which a crash is possible. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a semi-truck, the office of Disney Law is here to help. Call or text Robert Disney at 412-999-5765 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation of your personal injury claims.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is one of the top causes of big truck accidents every year. There are many things in a truck’s cab that can distract the driver’s attention from the road. Between the dashboard, radio communications, maps, and more, it is easy for a driver to be distracted while behind the wheel. Checking a phone, adjusting the music, or taking a call while driving can also distract a driver and cause a serious accident. There may also be something outside the vehicle, such as another car accident on the road or weather conditions that distracts the driver of a large truck and ultimately leads to a crash. 

Driving Drowsy

Another common cause of truck accidents is when a truck driver drives drowsy. This may not seem like a big deal, but studies have shown that a drowsy driver suffers from similar cognitive impairments as a drunk driver. When drivers are sleepy, they have a slower reaction time to hazards on the road and make more mistakes behind the wheel. This is a particular issue for big truck drivers, who are often under tight timelines, that forces them to drive drowsy in order to deliver their goods on time.

Driving Under the Influence

Driving under the influence is also a common cause of big truck accidents. This may be driving under the influence of alcohol or under the influence of drugs. Given the tight timelines that some trucking companies impose on their drivers, truck drivers will take stimulants in order to stay awake and continue driving. However, driving under the influence of stimulating drugs can cause a number of side effects that can impair a driver’s ability to drive safely and can cause an accident with smaller vehicles on the road.


Speeding is listed as a contributing cause in a number of big truck accidents every year. Semi-trucks can be up to 80 feet long and weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded with cargo. It takes more time and more space for this type of vehicle to come to a complete stop, and when a big truck is speeding, there is often less time and less space to avoid an accident. Even if the driver of a big truck is attempting to brake before an accident occurs, it may be too late.

Lack of Experience

Many accidents caused by big trucks happen because of the lack of experience of the driver behind the wheel. While most people think of truck drivers as old, grizzled men with a lifetime of experience, but in fact, many drivers are quite young and use the opportunity to either pay for their education or as their first job out of school. A lack of experience behind the wheel can lead to an accident incredibly quickly. Not understanding how the truck navigates, how long it takes to stop, or how wide the vehicle turns can all unintentionally lead to accidents on the roadway. 

Failure to Obey Traffic Signs and Signals

Failure to obey traffic signs and signals is another common cause of big truck accidents. This may happen in conjunction with an issue like speeding or a singular issue like attempting to pass in a no passing zone. Making a right hand turn at an intersection where it is not allowed or failing to adhere to a yield sign can all lead to catastrophic events for others on the roadway. 

Failure to Signal and Check Blindspots

In the majority of big truck accidents in which a truck sideswipes another vehicle, the truck driver failed to signal or check a blindspot before changing lanes. Unlike smaller vehicles, semi-trucks have significantly larger blindspots that can easily block an entire vehicle from view. Drivers of big trucks have a duty to check their blindspots and give plenty of notice to other drivers with their turn signals before changing lanes. When they fail to do so, cars on either side can get hit or crushed when the truck changes lanes.  

Vehicle Malfunction 

Big truck accidents often happen because of malfunctioning parts. Typically, it is the responsibility of the trucking companies to ensure that their vehicles receive routine maintenance and proper upkeep. A lapse in maintenance or an equipment defect can have devastating results when that big truck is taken out onto the road. Failures in the brake lines, signaling equipment, tires, and more can all cause a big truck to crash. 

Improper Cargo Loading

 Finally, one last common cause of big truck accidents is improper cargo loading. If a truck is loaded improperly, it can throw off the balance of the truck and make it more likely to jackknife or roll over on the road. This can happen if the heaviest cargo is loaded on top or if the cargo is not balanced on both sides. It is the responsibility of those loading the cargo onto the big trucks to ensure that it is stored properly for the journey.

 Call or Contact our Experienced Truck Accident Lawyers Today

Given the massive size and force of a large commercial truck, victims of big truck accidents routinely suffer catastrophic injuries. If you or someone you know has been injured by a big truck, call or text Robert Disney at 412-999-5765 or contact us online to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced truck accident attorney.