Semi Truck Accidents

Semi trucks are more challenging to drive and operate than other vehicles.  That is why special training and a different type of driver’s license are required.  Since operating a larger vehicle is so challenging, accidents will happen.  Learn why this is in the blog post from our sister website below.


December 17, 2016 | Taylor Ernst

Truck accidents are often the deadliest events on California’s roads. When a 80,000 pound truck collides with a 4,000 pound passenger vehicle, it is usually the car driver that ends up facing the worst of the consequences. With nearly 4,000 fatal truck and bus accidents in 2014, many are wondering what can be done to eliminate the risk altogether.

In order to reduce the number of semi truck accidents on America’s roads, we must first figure out why they happen. There are quite a few different reasons why big rigs are involved with collisions, and the fault is not always on the truck driver. In a study, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration identified the top “critical events,” as well as the “critical reasons,” as to why truck accidents happened that were the fault of the truck driver.

Understanding the Data Points

According to the FMCSA, “critical events” are the actions that caused the crash to be unavoidable. “Critical reasons,” on the other hand, are the factors that may have led to the critical event happening. The study does not place particular blame for the accident on any individual critical reason. Rather, it is simply a recording of the fact that that reason was present at the time of the incident.

After analyzing about 120,000 truck crashes that resulted in injury or death over a 33-month period, the FMCSA found three main critical events:

  • Leaving their lane, either off the road or into another lane (32 percent of crashes)
  • Loss of control due to speed, weather, cargo shifts, vehicle systems failure, road conditions or other reasons (29 percent of crashes)
  • Rear-ending another vehicle (22 percent of crashes)

The other 17 percent of crashes were caused by a myriad of other critical events. When the truck driver himself was to blame for the incident (as was the case in 87 percent of the wrecks), it was typically caused by at least one of four main critical reasons:


  • Decision: The driver may have driven too fast for weather or road conditions, followed too closely or otherwise made the choice to not drive safely (38 percent of accidents)
  • Recognition: Most often, this means the driver was distracted by something either inside or outside the cabin, or otherwise did not observe the current situation accurately (28 percent of accidents)
  • Non-performance: This includes the driver falling asleep or being physically incapacitated, such as by a heart attack or other sudden injury (12 percent of accidents)
  • Performance: Most common for “rookies,” this means the driver overcompensated, panicked or exercised poor control over the vehicle (9 percent of accidents)


There are also many different factors that can be associated with each of these critical events and reasons. For example, the truck brakes may have become faulty, traffic may have suddenly changed, prescription drugs or alcohol may have been used or, all-too-commonly, the driver may have been fatigued.

Other Causes of Truck Accidents

Of course, these are just the accidents caused by truck drivers themselves. Thousands of wrecks are also caused by passenger vehicle drivers every year. You are sure to encounter big rigs on California’s roads and highways, so be sure to drive safely around them to avoid causing an accident.

If you or a loved one are injured in a truck accident in San Luis Obispo or the surrounding area, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the attorneys at Ernst Law Group today for a free consultation, and to learn more about your legal options.


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