Trucks are a crucial tool for shipping large quantities of goods throughout the United States. In Kentucky alone, there are approximately 169,000 commercial trucks of 10,000 pounds or more registered for use. In addition, numerous major highways run through the state, which puts more trucks in circulation on Kentucky roads. While instrumental for many industries, trucks present a very real danger for drivers on Kentucky roads.
Trucks are the second most common vehicle involved in Kentucky car accidents, with more than 8,000 collisions per year. While truck accidents are less common than passenger vehicle crashes, they are more likely to cause serious injury or fatalities. In fact, according to the 2020 Kentucky Traffic Collision Facts Report, trucks account for only 5% of the vehicles in all Kentucky collisions, but truck accidents make up 9% of vehicle collision fatalities.
To keep yourself safe on the road, it is important to know and recognize the major causes of trucking accidents in Kentucky. Below, we have summarized the top 10 factors that cause traffic accidents in Kentucky.
Distracted or Inattentive Driving
The vast majority of Kentucky vehicle collisions involving trucks are due to inattention and distraction, including cell phone use. Combined, these factors cause approximately 3,000 accidents annually, 37% of Kentucky’s yearly total for truck collisions.
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The height of most trucks over 10,000 lbs. makes them particularly difficult to maneuver. When a driver incorrectly believes they can fit their vehicle under a bridge or overpass, they can cause significant damage to bridges and infrastructure. Such accidents also pose a risk of severe injury to people in the surrounding areas. Misjudging clearance causes more than 1,400 Kentucky truck collisions each year.
Lack of Control
When a truck driver loses control, it may be due to lack of attention, distracted driving, mechanical failures, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In addition, truckers may lose control of a vehicle when:
- They drive too fast for conditions
- They drive too closely to the vehicles ahead of them
- They overcorrect or turn suddenly
- They cause the trailer to jackknife
Losing control of a tractor-trailer on a busy roadway can cause catastrophic damage and fatalities.
Alcohol or Drug Involvement
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is the fourth cause of trucking accidents in Kentucky. Truckers who operate their vehicles while under the influence are less likely to be in control of their vehicle. Their reflexes are slower, which prevents them from making quick decisions while on the road.
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Speeding or Driving Too Fast for Conditions
Commercial trucks are heavier, bulkier, and more difficult to maneuver than traditional passenger vehicles. Truckers must therefore take extra care to operate their vehicle at safe speeds. This means driving at or below the posted speed limit and slowing as necessary for inclement weather, poor visibility, or heavy traffic.
Aggressive or Reckless Driving
Aggressive or reckless driving can place truckers and other drivers at risk of severe injury. Signs of reckless driving include improper passing, following too close, disregarding traffic control signals, weaving in traffic, or failing to yield right of way. Taken together, these factors cause nearly 1,500 accidents in Kentucky each year.
Fatigue and Falling Asleep
Long-haul truck drivers and delivery drivers working long hours are prone to fatigue or falling asleep at the wheel. 160 of Kentucky’s annual collisions are due to driver fatigue and falling asleep. This is a noticeable problem across the U.S., especially on interstate highways, which is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has established Hours-of-Service regulations that limit the amount of time a trucker can drive without a 30-minute break or 10 hour rest period.
Brake, Steering, or Tire Failure
Commercial trucks contain a variety of complex systems designed to ensure driver safety. When any critical system fails, the results can be disastrous. Power steering, brake systems, engines, and tires require regular maintenance and repairs to ensure that everything is in safe working condition. If the driver or their company fails to properly maintain their systems, they place the driver and others who share the road at risk of severe injury.
In some cases, system failures are due to faulty components through no fault of the driver. In such situations, the manufacturer or distributor of the defective component can be held liable for damages incurred due to the component’s failure.
In some cases, a truck driver may become sick or lose consciousness. The Commonwealth of Kentucky reports that approximately 76 truck accidents each year are caused by medical issues, including:
- Loss of consciousness/ Fainting
- Prescription Medication
- Physical Disability
A major cause of truck collisions in Kentucky is road conditions. Environmental factors that can affect driver safety on the road include:
- Slippery road conditions
- Animals in the roadway
- Pooling water
- Debris in roadway
- Construction or utility work
- Obstructed view
- Uneven road surface
Call Isaacs & Isaacs Personal Injury Lawyers for Help Today
If you have been injured in a truck accident in Kentucky, the dedicated attorneys at Isaacs & Isaacs Personal Injury Lawyers are here to assist you with your claim. Contact us today for a free consultation.