The primary causes of commercial truck and eighteen wheeler crashes are well studied and well known. This article elaborates on them and where to obtain more information in Maryland and elsewhere.

At Clark and Steinhorn, we have represented numerous victims of tractor trailer and commercial truck crashes for both personal injuries and  fatalities. The recurrent question we are asked is "what causes these crashes"?

This article will briefly examine the primary causes of eighteen wheeler and large truck crashes in Maryland and nationwide. The information for this article is derived from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's "Large Truck Crash Causation Study".

The top ten factors in fatal and injurious truck crashes with passenger vehicles are: 
1. Interruption in traffic flow.
2. Unfamiliarity with roadways.
3. Inadequate attention or surveillance.
4. Driving too fast for prevailing conditions.
5. Illegal maneuvering.
6. Inattentiveness.
7. Driver fatigue.
8. Driver illness.
9. Misunderstanding or false understanding of other driver's actions.
10. Distraction by in vehicle person or object.

The study also examines the primary factors for passenger vehicles involved in crashes with commercial trucks and while many of the same variables come into play, the incidence of alcohol and illegal drug use are far more prevalent.

Other factors included brake problems, prescription drug use, tire problems, cargo shifts, jackknifing, and following too close.

So what conclusions can be drawn from this important study? First, FMCSA assigned "relative risks" for the various factors assigned to large truck and tractor trailer crashes. The most "risky" phenomenon cargo shift, followed in order by driver illness, illegal maneuvers, following too close, and driver inattention.

Second, the issues are one's that are routinely addressed by both Maryland State and federal authorities through routine and suprise inspection activities. As a result the incidence of alcohol or drug use in commercial truck drivers is minimal although issues with driver fatigue and employer pressures to drive more remain.

Consequently the U.S. Department of Transportation has taken up the practice of issuing 'hazard orders" for commercial trucking and bus companies which have a history of recurrent crashes. For more go to: