Common Causes of Truck Accidents 

Posted: May 1, 2023

Nearly 5,000 people were killed and about 146,000 were injured in crashes involving large trucks in 2020, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

Among the more-common kinds of truck crashes are: 


 Rollover accidents happen when centrifugal forces (acting outward from the center of the truck) cause a truck to lean away from the path of a curved roadway. According to a recent study, tractor-trailers are vulnerable to these kind of accidents because of the high center of gravity frequently seen on most trailers. When the centrifugal force is overpowering, a tractor-trailer can flip onto its side or roof, and even roll several times. As it rolls, other vehicles may be struck by the truck or even crushed by the trailer, causing their occupants to be seriously injured or even killed. 

According to a study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, causes of truck-rollover crashes include taking curves too fast, failing brakes, and poor road conditions, especially at intersections. Driver inattentionis also a cause. That means that many truck rollovers could have been prevented.  Truck rollovers are major roadway hazard that can seriously hurt the driver and other motorists.  

Jackknife Incidents 

When an 18-wheeler jackknifes, the cab of the truck stops while the trailer swings around at an angle to it. Cars behind a jackknifing truck can become trapped or crushed.  

Many jackknife accidents occur on highways, where vehicles travel at higher speeds. Common causes are the weather, fast acceleration or braking, and mechanical issues. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regarding large truck crashes, between April 1, 2001 and December 31, 2003 436 single-vehicle truck accidents (representing two percent of such truck accidents during that period) and 1,044 multi-vehicle truck accidents (representing 25 percent) involved a jackknife event.  

Wide Turns 

Because trucks, like 18-wheelers, are so big, their drivers receive special training. A big part of that training is how to turn.  

A truck must turn widely to turn safely. An improper wide turn can take the driver into oncoming traffic. According to data from the NHTSA, during the period April 1, 2001 to December 31, 2003, nearly 1,500 multi-vehicle crashes happened when a truck tried to turn right at an intersection.  

Turns can go bad because of the truck driver’s failure to signal or check blind spots or navigate tight areas. Often a truck will need to execute a “wide right turn” due to the presence of a trailer. If the truck driver does not check to make sure that vehicles or pedestrians are not to the immediate right or fails to properly signal that a leftward veering is being accomplished to set up a right turn, serious personal injuries can result.  

Blown Tires 

According to the NHTSA, where the “critical event” of a truck crash was the vehicle’s loss of control, a blown out or flat tire was the culprit about 5 percent of the time.  

According to the NHTSA there were roughly 664 total motor vehicle traffic fatalities in 2020 related to “tire-related crashes.” Properly maintained tires require attention to tire size, pressure, tread, balance and alignment, according to the NHTSA.  

When a tire blows out, a truck may lose control or veer off the road. Flying tire debris also is a hazard.  

Tire blowouts can happen because of:   

  • underinflated or poorly maintained tires; 
  • an overloaded or improperly loaded trailer; or  
  • poor road conditions.  

Underride Incidents 

Eighteen-wheelers sit higher off the ground than passenger vehicles. A car can become trapped under the trailer. This is called an underride accident.  

Anyone in a car or on a motorcycle that rides under an 18-wheeler is at great risk of severe injury or death.  

How does an underride accident happen? Sometimes when a car tailgates a truck. Sometimes when visibility is poor because of fog or rain. Other times when a truck merges into a travel lane occupied by another motorist. Such accidents can happen when trucks make sudden turns.  

Lost Cargo  

Cargo shifting or falling from a truck is another cause of 18-wheeler accidents.  

Trucks transport tons of materials or goods at high speeds over long distances. Unfortunately, not all  cargo reaches its intended destination, posing a risk to motorists on the road 

Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney  

If you’re in an accident involving an 18-wheeler or other large truck and are seeking an experienced truck accident lawyer, the attorneys at William Mattar, P.C.,  can help. Contact us today, by calling (844) 444-4444 or completing our online form. Legal deadlines don’t wait, so schedule your free initial consultation today. 

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