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What typically causes a crash between a car and a semi-truck?

On Behalf of | Dec 14, 2023 | Truck Accidents

When compared with a semi-truck, a traditional passenger vehicle like a car, van or SUV is incredibly agile. People can maneuver easily and come to a full stop rather quickly when operating these vehicles. A semi-truck or 18-wheeler was much more difficult for a driver to manage. They have a substantially larger stopping distance, make wider turns and have bigger blind spots. They are also so large and heavy that they can cause crashes that demolish smaller vehicles and severely injure their occupants.

Drivers generally have an incentive to avoid any crash they can, but likely be a smart choice to pay close attention to the most dangerous types of crashes when driving defensively. If people know what causes different types of collisions, they may have an easier time avoiding them. What typically causes semi-truck crashes?

Mistakes by the driver of the smaller vehicle

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reviews crash data to better promote public safety. Its report on the causes of commercial crashes notes that slightly less than half of the collisions between passenger vehicles and semi trucks are the fault of the people in the smaller vehicles. They may cut off a semi-truck in traffic, leading to a rear-end crash or do something patently unsafe, like driving while drunk.

Mistakes by the commercial driver

The FMCSA report breaks down the scenarios in which a semi-truck is to blame for a collision. The most common issue is a decision-making error on the part of the semi-truck driver. They might drive too fast for road conditions or fail to begin braking in time when approaching a stop sign. After that, issues with recognition or noticing changes in traffic is the second leading cause. Non-performance, possibly related to falling asleep or having a medical event, is another common reason for commercial vehicle collisions.

The report from the FMCSA also highlights how vehicle issues are also a cause for a small but noteworthy percentage of commercial vehicle crashes. Obviously, most of these factors are not within the control of those operating passenger vehicles. Still, awareness of the risks can help people better adjust their personal habits.