Driving a truck can be a challenging task, whether on Virginia highways or while maneuvering through city streets. Truckers should follow federal and state traffic rules at all times. This minimizes the risk of truck crashes in Virginia.

Unfortunately, accidents involving large trucks and tractor-trailers are often catastrophic. When a big rig does collide with a passenger car, involved parties may sustain severe injuries or even die.

Many factors lead to truck collisions that result in severe bodily injuries or death. An experienced truck accident attorney in Virginia can look into the facts of your case and help you determine the cause of your accident. Finding out what led to your crash is crucial before filing a truck accident claim.

Frequent Causes of Truck Accidents

Most truck accidents are preventable. They are usually caused by driver error — either by the trucker or the passenger car driver. The following are some common causes of truck accidents in Virginia.

Truck Driver Fatigue

Driving a truck can be a high-pressure job. Trucking companies may require drivers to reach certain destinations within the shortest time possible. Truckers may also drive for long hours to meet deadlines.

Drivers of semi-trucks require quality sleep. Doctors recommend seven to nine hours of sleep every day. Regrettably, some drivers and trucking companies ignore such advice and disregard the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) regulations regarding hours of service.

The FMCSA requires property-carrying truckers to drive for a maximum of 11 hours after a 10-hour break. Drivers must also take a 30-minute break if they've been driving for eight consecutive hours without any interruption.

When drivers are on the road for too long, they experience fatigue. It's extremely risky to share a highway with a truck driver who is asleep.

Distracted Driving, Negligent Behavior, and Illegal Maneuvers

Since the emergence of smartphones, distracted driving has become a common problem. Distracted driving is any activity that diverts a trucker's attention away from the road, affecting their reaction time. Actions like texting, calling, eating, changing the playlist, and talking to passengers are forms of distracted driving.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that nine people die every day due to crashes involving distracted drivers. In 2020, 3,142 people lost their lives in distracted driving accidents.

Driving at high speeds makes it hard for drivers to control their semi-trucks. Such reckless behavior can also lead to truck accidents. Drivers should observe safety regulations, such as obeying speed limits and avoiding illegal maneuvers, to prevent truck accidents in Virginia.

Road Conditions and Bad Weather Conditions

Bad roads and poor weather conditions are common causes of truck accidents. Poor road maintenance can easily cause a truck driver to lose control. Large potholes on the road may force a driver to swerve between lanes and cause a head-on collision.

Inclement weather on Virginia roads can affect visibility and make it harder for truckers to control their semis. Snow, ice, rain, fog, and wind are bad weather conditions that can cause multi-vehicle accidents and catastrophic injuries.

Faulty Brakes, Defective Tires, and Poor Maintenance

Poor vehicle maintenance can lead to mechanical failure. Brake issues, steering issues, transmission and engine issues, suspension problems, or tire problems, such as tire blowouts and skidding, may occur when a truck isn't regularly maintained. 

  • Employers and trucking companies should regularly inspect and maintain their trucks. This can help avert dangerous situations that lead to severe injuries or fatalities.
  • Other common causes of truck accidents in Virginia include:
  • Tailgating
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Negligent hiring
  • Improper cargo loading
  • Failing to train drivers on techniques like defensive driving

Methods to Prevent Truck Driving Accidents

Stay safe and avoid truck accidents by following these tips.

Keep Your Distance

The best way to avoid trucking accidents is by keeping a safe distance between you and trucks. Remember, big rigs and tractor-trailers require more space to turn and complete a stop. Tire blowouts are also common with commercial trucks, which can make you lose control.

Avoid Blind Spots

Due to the size of commercial trucks, their blind spots are much larger than those of average passenger vehicles. It's advisable to stay out of areas the driver may have trouble seeing, including:

  • 20 feet in front of the semi
  • Two lanes wide on the truck's right side
  • 30 feet behind the semi

Most times, if you cannot see a truck's side mirrors, the driver may not be able to see you.

Pass Quickly

Large trucks can't make quick stops like passenger vehicles. If you plan to pass a large truck, do so quickly. Here are some tips that you should observe:

  • Don't pass a truck while traveling downhill or uphill
  • Only pass on the left side
  • Only return to the same lane as the truck once you can clearly see the truck driver in your rearview mirror

Don't Drive Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs

Driving while intoxicated can impair your judgment and affect your reaction time. Both passenger and commercial vehicle drivers must not operate their vehicles while drunk. In Virginia, it's illegal to operate a commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) higher than 0.04%. For passenger vehicles, the BAC limit is 0.08%.

Other tips to prevent truck accidents include:

  • Avoid distractions
  • Anticipate weather conditions
  • Use clear signals
  • Exercise caution when merging
  • Avoid road rage

When Should You Contact a Truck Accident Attorney?

Human error by truckers or other road users is the most common cause of truck accidents. After a truck accident, it's advisable to contact a Virginia truck accident attorney, who will determine whether human error led to your accident. You should consider hiring a truck accident attorney if you sustain significant injuries, liability isn't clear, the other driver is uninsured, you miss work for a long period, or if you disagree with the police report.

At Commonwealth Law Group, our Virginia truck accident injury attorneys are ready to help you if you've been injured or lost a loved one in a truck accident. Our reputable legal team can help you recover, both physically and financially.

Contact us today to speak to one of our Virginia or West Virginia truck accident attorneys.

If you have been injured at work or through the negligence of another individual or entity, contact us at (804) 999-9999 or or use the form below to connect with our legal team. We will fight to get you the justice you deserve.