Truck traffic on Pennsylvania roads appears to be at an all-time high. As citizens of this Commonwealth we understand that commercial trucks play a vital role in the economy of Northeastern Pennsylvania, as well as across the United States. However, it is imperative that truck drivers and trucking companies follow strict safety rules to ensure that they do not cause accidents while driving on the roads in our Commonwealth. 

Trucking accidents can occur on highways, inner-city roads, and in rural areas. Because large trucks can take some time to come to a stop, it is easy to see how a small car can be crushed during a collision. Here are some of the most common truck accident causes on Pennsylvania roads.

1. Driver Error:

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), driver error is the most common cause of truck accidents. Some of the common truck driver errors include:

  • Failing to check the blind spot for other vehicles when changing lanes
  • Making sudden changes, like abruptly changing lanes, braking, or stopping
  • Tailgating
  • Not obeying traffic signs
  • Not paying attention to the road
  • Distracted from driving due to eating, texting, or talking on the phone
  • Driving while exhausted or from lack of sleep

Even though truck drivers have many rules, such as how long they should drive on a single shift or how many hours they can drive in a week, some still drive beyond the set limits. Consequently, fatigue and lack of sleep are common, which often result in errors leading to accidents.

2. Speeding:

A major factor in truck accidents causes is going over the speed limit. The key reason why truck drivers speed is that they have to deliver goods on time. In many cases, they are also rewarded for timely deliveries, and, consequently, they frequently speed.  Speeding may seem fine on a flat empty highway, but, in most cases, many roads are congested with other traffic.  The weather may also be poor, or some sections of the highway may be under repair, and speeding under these circumstances usually leads to accidents.

3. Overtaking (or Passing):

To overtake slower cars, some truckers drive at break-neck speeds, forcing the smaller car off the road, often leading to collisions. Overtaking for truckers is always a risky maneuver. Still, some truckers may attempt passing other vehicles for a variety of reasons, and passing a line of smaller cars while speeding is a common cause of truck accidents. 

The tragedy is, in some cases, the driver of the cars will also speed to prevent the trucker driver from re-entering the right lane.  This kind of behavior has no place on the roadways as it is senseless and very avoidable. This kind of behavior while driving also makes it dangerous for any oncoming traffic.

4. Fatigue: 

Fatigue is a universal complaint among truck drivers. Trucking itself is a hard job: the hours are long, the ride is monotonous, and there are always deadlines to be met. Sleeping in other than your own bed can be a cause of restless sleep, where you never really get rested.  Fatigue is usually a common cause of trucking accidents because drivers are slow to react when there is a need to stop suddenly. 

Despite poor weather and bad road conditions, fatigued drivers still get on the roads because they need to deliver the goods so that they can receive a bonus. Very rarely does a truck driver think that fatigue will cause an accident.

5. Distracted Driving: 

Driving a truck for a living is not a glamorous job, and it can be monotonous. Drivers, therefore, often get distracted for a variety of reasons, including texting, listening to music, daydreaming, eating, drinking, talking to another person on the walkie-talkie or the smartphone, or surfing the internet. Even changing the radio station can lead to a few seconds of distraction, which may prove to be deadly on busy roads. 

Today, distracted driving is fast becoming the number one cause of trucking accidents in the USA.  These accidents are often very serious and can lead to fatalities. The distracted driver may not comprehend the situation on the road and may be completely oblivious to what’s happening around him, which is, obviously, not what you want or need from a trucker driving on the road.

6. Driving Under the Influence:

Even though it is illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or marijuana, many truckers continue to do so each year. Even certain prescription drugs can have a profound effect on the brain and can impair the ability to concentrate.  Alcohol and many prescription drugs can also affect cognition, impair judgment and coordination can also be impaired, making driving very dangerous. 

Each year, impaired drivers cause thousands of accidents all over the nation. Even the use of marijuana is considered illegal when driving a truck as the agent has been shown to impair judgment and concentration. 

7. Failing to Secure the Loads

No matter what items the trucker is carrying, the number one rule is that it must be secured. In addition, the load should be evenly distributed across the truck. Failure to distribute the weight can cause an imbalance in the truck, which can topple the truck when turning around sharp corners or during a sudden stop.  If the load is not securely fastened, there is a chance that it may loosen and fly off the truck, onto the road, and into the path of other vehicles, causing serious injuries.

8. Half-Filled Liquid Loads: 

Trucks frequently transport all types of liquids, like oil, water, kerosene, etc. Sometimes the containers are only half-filled, and this makes driving especially dangerous. The reason is that the half-filled liquid moves around in the tank with such force that it can sway the truck and sometimes even topple it when the truck makes a turn. Further, if the driver suddenly brakes, the fluid can shift the truck’s balance, causing it to collide with other cars on the road.

For example, water trucks traveling to and from gas pads in Susquehanna County that may have been improperly filled makes it more difficult or even impossible for the driver to control the vehicle they are operating. 

9. Tailgating:

Truckers are notorious for tailgating slow car drivers. Time and time again, when truckers tailgate, they have very little time to stop their truck if the driver in front slows down or brakes suddenly.  When a ten-ton truck rear-ends a passenger car, the damage to the car can be significant, as well as the passengers within the vehicle. 

Sometimes the car is completely crushed, and, in almost all cases, the driver and his passengers are seriously injured. Most cars are not capable of withstanding a rear hit sustained from a semi-truck accident.

10. Lack of Training:

The one profession that has a high demand for jobs is the trucking industry. Trucking can be a difficult profession and, therefore, not many people want to enter it.  Therefore, it has been said that the trucking industry accepts even borderline candidates with little or no experience. In addition, because of time and money constraints, these new drivers are provided little or no training. 

When novice drivers get on the road with semi’s, there is a higher risk for accidents. By law, all new truckers have to put in a certain number of training hours before driving commercial trucks on the highways, but truck owners often do not abide by these rules.

11. Brakes: 

Reports from the National Highway Safety Administration indicate that more than a quarter of trucking accidents are a result of brake failure. This is often due to lack of maintenance, faulty inspection, overheating, or condensation of moisture. For decades, the federal government has mandated that truck owners and drivers pay attention to the brakes and get the maintenance done as scheduled. 

Unfortunately, because of the nature of the business, taking a truck off the road for maintenance results in loss of income. Profits override the need for safety, and truck owners frequently cut corners, and when accidents occur, they have no one to blame but themselves. Sometimes the braking problem may be the result of a design flaw. Overall, failure to maintain the truck is a common cause of truck accidents.

12. Tires: 

Another common cause of truck accidents is poor tires or worn-out tread. Truck drivers are often busy and work long hours and often fail to note the condition of the tires. When the tire treads are worn out, there is a potential risk of bursting or sliding when the brakes are applied. Sudden tire blowouts are known to be the cause of many truck accidents.

13. Road Conditions:

Sometimes the cause of trucking accidents is road conditions. Highways are constantly being repaired, and signs are placed, but truckers often fail to slow down, and this often results in deadly accidents involving road repair individuals. In addition, sometimes the roads are slippery from heavy rains, ice, snow, or spillage of oil, and when trucks speed, the tires lose their grip on the tarmac, resulting in serious collisions.

14. Other Drivers: 

Unfortunately, a truck accident can also occur due to the actions of other passenger vehicles on the road. Some of the reasons car drivers cause trucking accidents include the following:

  • Driving in the truck’s blind spot
  • Changing lanes suddenly when in front of a truck
  • Attempting to pass a truck on the right that is making a right turn
  • Tailgating a truck
  • Braking suddenly when in front of a truck
  • Failing to slow down when a truck is attempting to turn, pass, or change lanes
  • Passing a speeding truck and being swayed by the air turbulence
  • Driving in between two trucks
  • Merging slowly on the highway while a truck is approaching fast
  • Harassing a truck driver
  • Stopping suddenly on the side of the road without signal


The best recommendation that we can make is to let the truck driver pass and maintain a safe distance whenever possible. Slowing down may delay you to your ultimate destination by a few minutes, but it can save your life and the lives of those around you.



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