Top 10 Causes of Truck Accidents

truck getting dangerously close

Understanding the reasons why major collisions occur on Cape Cod and the Islands may help you avoid a wreck or provide you with answers about what happened if a truck driver strikes your vehicle.

The trucking accident lawyer at the Snow Law Firm has decades of experience and will discuss your legal options in the aftermath of an accident with a tractor trailer. Call us at (508) 477-7100 to learn more.

Driver Fatigue

Tired drivers cause a tremendous number of truck accidents every year. Truck drivers are legally allowed to drive up to 11 hours per government hours-of-service (HOS) regulations. After so many hours behind the wheel, drivers often have difficulties focusing on seeing and paying attention to the road.

However, some drivers ignore these restrictions, driving over 11 hours at a time to make a delivery or return home after a long trip.

Drivers experiencing fatigue often face the same level of impairment as drivers who drink alcohol. As a result, they often make dangerous decisions or react slowly to changing traffic conditions. Fatigued drivers also fall asleep at the wheel, making this one of the most common causes of truck accidents.

Driver Distractions

Drivers face numerous distractions each time they get behind the wheel. Cell phone usage represents one of the primary forms of distraction, and the Federal government prohibits truck drivers from sending texts or placing calls with hand-held phones.

However, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), drivers cause accidents due to other distractions. Drivers experience distraction when they:

  • Eat
  • Read
  • Change the radio station
  • Use a dispatch device

Other forms of distraction involve looking out the window at billboards, buildings, or people on the sidewalk.

Usage of Alcohol or Drugs

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a criminal act in Massachusetts. However, some drivers ignore this law and consume alcohol before they drive. Many truckers avoid the usage of alcohol because it increases drowsiness, instead consuming other drugs, like:

  • Amphetamines
  • Methamphetamines
  • Cocaine
  • Opiates

Some truck drivers take these drugs to stay awake and stay focused. However, using these drugs may cause truckers to operate their vehicles more aggressively or take risky actions that endanger others.

Vehicle Defects

Sometimes, truck manufacturers produce vehicles with severe defects. Issues with the braking system or other safety systems represent common causes of truck accidents. Ideally, trucking companies notice these defects quickly as they inspect the truck or perform maintenance work.

However, defects often go unnoticed for a long time until they end up causing collisions.

Poorly Secured Cargo

Commercial trucks haul heavy cargo around the country. Trucking companies have a responsibility to ensure that each load is properly secured before the truck leaves the yard. Poorly contained cargo shifts around, which may cause the truck driver to lose control of the rig.

Unsecured cargo sometimes falls off a truck completely, landing in the path of oncoming traffic. Some trucks even spill hazardous material—such as dangerous chemicals—onto the roadway, leading to increased health risks and damage to the environment.

Improper Truck Maintenance

Sometimes, the causes of truck accidents feel very dramatic. However, in other situations, these accidents occur because the trucking company simply failed to perform proper maintenance on their vehicles.

Correct maintenance procedures keep all parts of a truck working as specified, including the brakes. Companies that skip safety procedures and maintenance activities often end up creating vehicles that are more likely to break down while driving.

Inexperienced Drivers

We expect the drivers operating large vehicles, like 18-wheelers and semi-trucks, to know what they’re doing. Unfortunately, sometimes companies hire drivers without the necessary experience or training.

Inexperienced drivers have a greater likelihood of losing control of their vehicles. They may not understand how to check all the blind spots around a truck, causing them to change lanes into another car or back up without performing a safety check.


Tailgating occurs when one vehicle follows another too closely. When a truck tailgates a passenger car, it often leads to a significant collision. We often see accidents when the driver in front stops suddenly.

Trucks require a longer stopping distance than smaller vehicles. When they slam on their brakes, sometimes the 18-wheeler or other large trucks, even tow trucks continue moving, leading to a rear-end collision. These accidents occur more frequently at traffic signals and stop signs.

Inappropriate Surveillance

Truck drivers spend extra time preparing to back up or change lanes. Large vehicles—like semi-trucks—have numerous blind spots, even when drivers use all their mirrors correctly. Drivers assess these blind spots before moving the truck to prevent an accident.

Some drivers grow impatient and end up missing potential hazards. This kind of behavior can lead to a truck accident in Mashpee.

Driver Errors

Finally, driver errors rank as one of the primary causes of truck accidents around the country. Drivers often make errors accidentally. However, some drivers behave in an intentionally reckless way, leading to collisions with other vehicles.

Examples of dangerous truck driver behaviors include:

  • Speeding
  • Passing in an unsafe way
  • Swerving
  • Making unsafe turns

Speak to a truck accident lawyer after an accident caused by any of these errors to discuss options for securing compensation for your losses.

Types of Truck Accidents

Understanding the causes of truck accidents helps many drivers process what happened in the aftermath of a collision. Some drivers also have questions about different kinds of truck accidents.

Examples of common truck accidents include:

Head-On Accidents

A head-on accident takes place when a vehicle strikes the front end of a different car. A driver who crosses the centerline may cause a head-on collision.

Rear-End Collisions

Drivers slam the front of their vehicle into the rear bumper of another car in a rear-end collision. These accidents often occur as a result of tailgating. We see them at red lights and stop signs when one vehicle fails to stop in time.

Side-Impact Collisions

People also use the term T-Bone collision to refer to side-impact accidents. These accidents occur when one vehicle strikes another in the side. T-bone accidents frequently happen in intersections, especially if one driver runs a red light or ignores a stop sign.

Rollover Accidents

Finally, sometimes truckers end up involved in rollover accidents. These collisions take place when a driver takes a turn too fast or becomes loose due to poor weather conditions. The entire truck may tip over, blocking the road and striking multiple vehicles.

Outcomes of Truck Accidents

Large trucks cause significant amounts of damage when they become involved in a car crash, including, injuries, damages and death.


Drivers and passengers in smaller vehicles may sustain severe injuries after an accident with a big-rig, semi-truck, or 18-wheeler. In many cases, individuals face:

  • Head or brain injuries
  • Injuries to the back, neck, and spine
  • Internal injuries to organs
  • Broken bones

Professionals recommend that you seek immediate medical care after a truck accident. Securing help right away allows you to begin your recovery. Taking this step also helps to show that the accident caused your injuries, which may help when you seek compensation for your losses.

Vehicle Damage

Trucks are typically much larger than passenger vehicles. In the event of an accident, they cause significant amounts of damage and may even total your vehicle. You have options to seek compensation for the repair or replacement costs for your car.

Wrongful Death

Sometimes, serious truck accidents result in a loss of life. In this situation, you may file a wrongful death claim to seek compensation for burial and funeral expenses. Our team understands the emotional strain associated with a fatal accident.

What To Do After a Truck Accident

Unsure what steps to take after a truck accident? The professionals help you review the steps to take following your collision. Make sure that you:

  • Report the accident to local authorities
  • Collect contact information from the truck driver and witnesses
  • Use your phone to take pictures of your injuries and vehicle damage
  • Seek medical care
  • Reach out to a truck accident lawyer

Seeking help from a law firm allows many drivers to feel confident about handling the repercussions of an accident with a trucker. You may build a claim in the aftermath of your accident, seeking compensation either through a settlement with the insurance company or by filing a lawsuit against the driver who struck you.

Speak With Us After a Truck Accident in Mashpee

Curious about the causes of truck accidents in Mashpee, MA? Our team at the Snow Law Firm offers you information about these collisions and handles claims for drivers struck by truckers. We help you secure damages to cover:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Vehicle damage
  • Pain and suffering

Truck accident attorneys put their experience and legal know-how to work for you in the aftermath of a collision. We focus on putting clients in your situation first and always explain the steps we take to work on your claim. You can find out more by calling us at (508) 477-7100.


More Posts

Find out if you have a case!

Contact Form (#3)