The Top 20 Unsafe Driving Behaviors That Lead to Commercial Truck-Car Collisions


At Dugas Law Firm we are committed to helping the victims of trucking accidents receive the justice and fair compensation they deserve for their injuries and property loss. However, the reality is that though lawsuits can go a long way toward righting some of the wrongs suffered by victims, major trucking accidents often leave serious, permanent emotional or physical trauma that cannot be undone. Avoiding a serious trucking accident in the first place is clearly the best scenario. That’s why we wanted to take this opportunity to inform our readers about the top 20 unsafe driving behaviors that result in commercial truck-passenger car collisions. This data is from a report published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

The top 20 most dangerous driving behaviors that lead to commercial truck-passenger car collisions are as follows starting with the most common cause and descending in frequency.

  1. Driving Inattentively – This includes activities such as texting and driving, talking on the phone or to passengers, driving while sleepy, or simply taking eyes off the road. The bottom line is that inattention kills and both truckers and regular motorists alike must remain vigilant at all times.
  2. Improper Merging – This occurs when a vehicle changes lanes improperly and forces an 18-wheeler or commercial truck to swerve or brake quickly. It’s important to realize that commercial trucks are extremely large and require much greater stopping distances and also lack much of the maneuverability that smaller vehicles have.
  3. Failure to Stop – This occurs when either the 18-wheeler or passenger vehicle fails to stop for a traffic light or stop sign. This can also occur when a vehicle attempts to go through an intersection on a changing light or goes too early before the light fully changes.
  4. Failure to Slow Down for Construction – All over the US but especially here in Texas it seems like roadwork and construction are a permanent fact of life. No one likes being delayed due to construction but it is crucial to realize that driving too quickly through construction zones can risk lives.
  5. Driving Too Fast – Speeding is one of the most common traffic violations and just about everyone is guilty of it at one time or another. However, speeding limits are put in place for a reason and failing to observe them can lead to disastrous consequences.
  6. Following Too Closely – Whether on the part of the trucker or the regular motorist, following too closely can be a fatal mistake. Remember that commercial trucks are huge and dramatically outweigh passenger vehicles. It is imperative to keep a safe distance.
  7. Failure to Observe Environmental Conditions – As discussed above, speeding limits are set in place for a reason; however, it is important to remember that they reflect limits while driving under ideal consequences. Rain, glaring sunlight, fog, and other temporary environmental conditions necessitate drivers to slow down.
  8. Abrupt Lane Changes – Suddenly cutting in front of an 18-wheeler can spell disaster. Once again it is crucial to remember that large, heavy trucks have a much longer stopping distance than smaller vehicles.
  9. Driving in Blind Spots – Everyday motorists are often unaware of the very large blind spots that all large commercial trucks have. Driving for too long in one of these blind spots can cause the trucker to forget about your presence and drive right into you. See our past articles about 18-wheeler blind spots for more information.
  10. Unsafe Turning – Turning too quickly or with too little room can easily result in a serious collision. This is particularly true for 18-wheelers who have much less maneuverability than smaller vehicles.
  11. Unsafe Passing – No one wants to wait behind a much slower vehicle, but trying to weave in and out of traffic, especially if in an 18-wheeler or with one nearby, can easily result in fatal or serious crashes.
  12. Insufficient Acceleration to Enter Roadway – Whether entering a freeway from an on-ramp or turning onto a highway from a parking lot, failing to accelerate quickly enough can put a motorist directly in the path of an oncoming commercial truck that does not have the ability to safely brake.
  13. Driving While Intoxicated – Drunk or intoxicated driving, whether on the part of the regular driver or the trucker, continues to be a leading cause of preventable driving deaths and injuries.
  14. Changing Lanes Followed by Sudden Braking – A terrifying scenario can unfold when a motorists enters a new lane of traffic without realizing that there is an obstacle or delay in the new lane. This can result in sudden braking, which as mentioned above, is never a good set of circumstances when an 18-wheeler is involved. Always look ahead before changing lanes.
  15. Unsafe Traffic Crossing – It can be frustrating waiting for a break in traffic so that you can get across the road or turn into a parking lot; however, taking a chance and crossing unsafely is a major cause of commercial truck – passenger vehicle collisions.
  16. Entering Opposing Traffic – Regardless of the reason why it occurs, a vehicle leaving its lane and entering head-on traffic is an utterly terrifying event. There is often nothing the motorist in the correct lane can do but watch as the other vehicle strikes them. This is especially horrifying if it is a large 18-wheeler bearing down on you.
  17. Failing to Permit Commercial Trucks from Merging – No one likes to be cut-off, but if it is an 18-wheeler muscling its way into your lane it is crucial to remember that the truck may not even see you because you could be in a blind spot. Don’t try to keep them out by speeding up or closing a gap. It isn’t worth it.
  18. Commercial Trailer Blocking Roadway – Commercial trucks aren’t the only ones who can have difficulty stopping suddenly. Given the fact that commercial trucks often come with very long trailers attached it can be fatal when a trucker attempts to cross a high speed roadway unsafely and winds up with their trailer directly in the path of a high speed motorist.
  19. Front or Rear Collisions with 18-Wheelers When Changing Lanes – Once again it is easy to forget just how large and long an 18-wheeler is, especially if you are used to driving around smaller vehicles. Remember it takes longer to pass or be passed by a long tractor-trailer and changing lanes too soon can be deadly.
  20. Being to the Right of a Truck Making a Right Turn – This scary situation is often referred to as the “right-turn squeeze.” It occurs when a commercial truck gets into the left lane of traffic so that they can make a wide right turn. Unfortunately this temporarily leaves the right lane empty and an unaware passenger vehicle may enter it not realizing that they are about to be in the path of the tractor-trailer.

The scenarios discussed above are frightening and the tragic reality is that when one of these errors is made by the trucker, there is often very little the regular motorist can do to avoid collision. However, while we cannot undo the pain and damage caused by a serious crash with an 18-wheeler, Dugas Law Firm is here to help trucking victims get the justice and compensation they need to begin the healing the process.

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