Parker Waichman LLP

You’re not alone if you feel nervous when encountering a truck on the road. Many drivers share the experience of instantly becoming more alert when they see a truck come up behind them. You might sit up straighter and grip the wheel tighter.

The reaction you have when driving near a commercial truck isn’t irrational. Various types of truck accidents happen every day. According to the Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there were 415,000 reported accidents involving trucks in 2020, of which 4,444 were fatal.

These statistics make one thing clear: Trucks are dangerous, especially when drivers don’t operate them properly. But why are these accidents happening, and how do you know about which trucks to look out for?

Types of Truck Accidents

Not all truck accidents are the same. All truck accidents have different causes and impacts. Here are types of truck accidents that are most common on the road today.

Rollover Accidents

Rollover accidents can happen when trucks take a turn too fast. Because their center of gravity is higher, making sudden swerves causes the driver to lose control of the vehicle. The truck falls off balance and rolls over, usually colliding with passenger cars or other automobiles in the process.

Rear-End Accidents

Trucks may rear-end cars for several reasons. Since they are so big, it takes more time and effort to slow down. If a car in front of them stops suddenly, they may not have time to fully stop if they are following too closely.

Similarly, many drivers of commercial trucks cannot see directly in front of them because of the size of their vehicles. This is one of their many blind spots. Truck drivers may not see a car and end up rear-ending them.

Head-On Accidents

Head-on accidents are when truck drivers drift out of their lane toward oncoming traffic. These commonly happen at stop signs, intersections, and traffic lights. If a truck driver misunderstands the right of way, is distracted, or simply makes a mistake, it can lead to devastating effects.

Jackknife Accidents

Jackknife accidents happen exclusively with tractor-trailers. When they hit the brakes too quickly or take a turn incorrectly, the trailer swings around its pivot point, folding the tractor-trailer inward. As it swings, the trailer may collide with other vehicles. At its weight and speed, it’s sure to cause extensive damage. The stuck tractor-trailer may also block the road, which leads to further confusion and accidents between drivers.

Side-Impact Accidents

Side-impact crashes happen when large trucks run lights at intersections or fail to check for other cars before turning. Unsuspecting drivers end up slamming the sides of their cars into the truck. Unfortunately, the car will absorb most of the impact and suffer more damage.

Turning Accidents

Any driver needs to be careful when taking turns, but truck drivers must be especially alert. Right turns are tighter than left turns, so truck drivers may accidentally swing their trailers toward other cars in the process.

Left turns, on the other hand, are so wide that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration asks tractor-trailers and other large trucks to avoid them. Instead, they recommend that drivers maneuver to the farthest lane from where they must turn, and then move right into the closest lane.

Underride Accidents

Underride accidents happen when trucks stop too suddenly and trap smaller cars or motorcycles under them. These accidents are one of the most fatal types of truck accidents.

Common Causes of Truck Accidents

When suffering a tragedy like a truck accident, you want a logical explanation as to why it happened. There are seemingly endless causes of truck accidents, but here are the most common.

Faulty Tires

Tires require proper maintenance on any vehicle, but especially for trucks. They carry a lot of weight, and drivers rely on them over long distances. If tires are over or under inflated, they will impact how the truck moves.

If the tires blow out, the driver can lose complete control of the truck. Cars won’t have enough time to stop on a highway or busy road before colliding with the truck.

Driving Too Fast

Most drivers have gone a few notches above the speed limit from time to time, but for truck drivers, this risk could be deadly. Truck drivers may speed to reach their destination more quickly. However, since a truck already needs more time to slow down and stop than other vehicles, this increases the chance of accidents.

Brake Failure

A truck’s brakes can fail when:

  • The trucking company or driver doesn’t follow maintenance regulations
  • The manufacturer didn’t install them properly
  • The brakes become overheated from high speeds
  • The driver received inadequate training

When a driver can’t stop the truck in time, this presents a danger to everyone else on the road.

Distracted Driving

Truck drivers spend significant time on the open road and may turn to texting or other distractions to get them through a long haul. While some drivers may think they can multitask, ultimately, this means their attention isn’t 100% on the road.

Even the most skilled driver makes mistakes when distracted. Truck driving requires a higher level of attention and focus than driving the average car.

Incorrectly Loaded Cargo

The purpose of truck driving is commonly to carry cargo from point A to point B. The cargo company must load the truck perfectly before it departs. Otherwise, there’s a risk of cargo falling off the truck and onto the road.


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has the following regulations for truck drivers:

  • Drivers carrying property can drive a maximum of 11 hours after ten consecutive off-duty hours
  • Drivers carrying passengers can drive a maximum of 10 hours after eight consecutive off-duty hours
  • Drivers carrying property must take a 30-minute break for every eight consecutive hours they drive
  • Drivers cannot drive after 60 to 70 hours on duty for seven to eight consecutive days

These regulations work to prevent drivers from experiencing fatigue. However, it’s still common for drivers to be fatigued after many long hours of driving, especially if they don’t follow the regulations above. Sleep deprivation leads to a lack of focus and impaired judgment.

Road Conditions

Sometimes, truck accidents are out of the drivers’ control entirely. Bad weather can make it difficult to maneuver trucks safely. Similarly, trucks are at a higher risk for accidents if road maintenance companies fail to keep roads safe.

If you’ve been in a truck accident, determining the cause of your accident is essential to seeking compensation. Contact a truck accident lawyer to find out how to determine liability and take legal action.

Dangerous Trucks to Look Out For

All trucks can pose a threat, but some are more dangerous than others. When you’re on the road, be sure to keep an eye out for these trucks, and when you can, keep your distance.

Tanker Trucks

Tanker trucks transport fuel like gasoline and diesel. Given the highly flammable nature of their cargo, the aftermath of their accidents is devastating. They are so large that it can be difficult for drivers to maneuver them safely.

Garbage Trucks

Garbage trucks keep our communities clean but can also cause disastrous accidents if drivers aren’t careful. Garbage trucks have especially large blind spots, which makes them much more prone to hitting other vehicles in their path.

Cement Trucks

Cement trucks transport wet cement using a cement mixer with a rotating drum. This makes them quite top-heavy and prone to rolling over if they take a turn too quickly. Cement spilling from the truck can also cause significant damage to the road and surrounding vehicles.


Semi-trucks include:

  • 18-wheelers
  • Tractor-trailers
  • Boxcars
  • Big rigs

These are some of the largest, heaviest trucks you’ll encounter on the road. Their size alone makes them dangerous. The larger a truck is, the harder it is to maneuver and the longer it takes to slow down.

A car, or even another truck, colliding with a semi-truck will absorb the impact. These collisions can be deadly.

Seek Compensation for Your Truck Accident With Experienced Truck Accident Attorneys

Truck accident types may vary, but our dedication to your case is unwavering. Regardless of the type or cause of your truck accident, Truck Accidents Law Firm will help. We are experienced in truck accident personal injury cases and will guide you as you pursue compensation for your injuries.

If you’re ready to take your first step toward filing a claim, call one of our offices today for a free consultation.

New York: 212-267-6700

Long Island: 800-529-4636

New Jersey: 973-323-3603

Florida: 239-390-1000