Noted poet and philosopher, Henry David Thoreau, wrote that it’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see. When you look at personal injury accidents involving commercial transport trucks, you may only see catastrophic consequences. But, we are here to show you common causes of such accidents and provide you with safety recommendations to help you see your way to avoiding potential injury and tragedy.
According to national transportation statistics, more than 80% of fatal commercial transport truck (for ease, we’ll simply call them a “truck” or “trucks”) crashes and more than 50% of injury-causing truck accidents occur on highways, on weekdays, between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Common causes of truck-related accidents include:
Truck driver fatigue
Given the long driving hours, fatigue is a serious issue for truck drivers and one which is actually addressed by law. The Hours of Service (HOS) regulation under the Motor Vehicle Transport Act prescribes the maximum driving times and minimum off-duty times for truck drivers. This regulation requires that in a 24-hour period a truck driver must: (1) have at least 10 hours off; (2) not drive more than 13 hours; and, (3) not drive after 14 hours on-duty.
Improper load or improperly secured cargo
Under Regulation 363/04 (Security of Loads) of the Highway Traffic Act, truck drivers must ensure, by using tie-downs or other securing devices, that any load or cargo carried by their truck does not shift, dislodge, or fall.
Impaired driving due to alcohol, narcotics, or prescription drugs
Aggressive or reckless driving
Tail-gating (following another vehicle too closely)
Inattention and distraction (inside and/or outside the truck)
Illegal manoeuvres (lane change, traffic signal/signage)
Unfamiliarity with route
Truck malfunction (brakes, tires)
The majority of truck-related accidents arise from the following circumstances:
- Colliding with the rear end of another vehicle;
Loss of vehicle control (due to excessive speed, cargo shifting, vehicle malfunction, road conditions); and
Running out of the lane (traveling into another lane or off the road entirely).
If you are driving near a truck, it is important to be vigilant and adjust your driving behaviour accordingly. Following these safety recommendations may help you avoid an accident:
Give right of way to a truck by slowing down and driving at a safe speed
Never cut-off a truck. It takes a longer period of time to pass a truck and you must be sure that you can see the front of the truck in your rear-view mirror before pulling in front of it
Do not travel in a truck’s blind spot for longer than is necessary (if you cannot see the truck driver in the truck’s wing mirrors, then it is likely that the driver cannot see you)
Always use turn signals when changing lanes and merging
If a truck passes you, reduce your speed to account for any water, debris, or dirt from the truck’s tires which may impair your visibility
When following a truck, maintain a minimum following distance of four (4) seconds
Do not attempt to position your car in between two or more trucks as you