It takes a lot of skill and training to safely control a commercial vehicle. Despite the extra training required of commercial drivers and the stricter standards applied to their licenses, crashes between commercial vehicles and smaller passenger vehicles are still relatively common.
According to data analyzed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), slightly more than half of the crashes involving commercial trucks stem from something the commercial vehicle does. In the majority of those collisions, the driver makes some kind of mistake that leads to a crash.
However, there are two scenarios in which the driver may not personally be to blame for the collision.
When there are maintenance issues with their commercial vehicles
There are some commercial drivers who are owner-operators. They control their own schedules and loads. However, many commercial drivers are employees who work for companies and drive fleet vehicles. They have no control over the maintenance of the commercial vehicles they drive. The employers provide repairs and routine service.
According to statistics by the FMCSA, roughly 10% of the collisions caused by semi-trucks are the result of issues with the vehicle, not decisions made by the driver. When the issue is a problem with the brakes or a similar maintenance matter, the employer of the truck driver may ultimately be to blame for the crash that occurs.
When there are cargo issues
Some commercial drivers help load their trailers and are therefore aware of every item they haul. Many others simply pick up a trailer and get back on the road.
If the driver doesn’t know that warehouse workers didn’t balance the weight in their trailer properly or that there are fluids in their trailer, they might take turns improperly or otherwise engage in maneuvers that lead to increased crash risk. It would be those who loaded the trailer and properly or that failed to disclose the presence of liquids that may ultimately be to blame for a collision that results in such a scenario.
Sometimes, drivers are at fault for a crash because they experience a medical event at the wheel, which is not necessarily something they could predict or prevent. Recognizing that a driver may not be the one to blame could help those seeking compensation after a commercial crash.