More than 5,000 road users are killed and a further 140,000 suffer injuries each year around the country in motor vehicle accidents involving large commercial vehicles according to figures compiled by a federal agency. Media outlets rarely cover major tractor-trailer crashes unless impaired, intoxicated or distracted truck drivers are involved, but the data suggests that it is passenger vehicle drivers who are most often at fault.
According to the data, about 70 percent of the accidents involving semi-tractor trailers each year are caused by car drivers, and human error is a factor in the vast majority of these crashes. Figures from 2015 reveal that about 29 percent of the passenger vehicle occupants who died in truck crashes lost their lives in front-end collisions, and a further 29 percent were killed when the vehicle they were traveling in struck the rear of a tractor-trailer.
Experts say that the majority of deadly rear-end collisions involving large trucks are caused by tailgating and most fatal head-on collisions are caused by passenger vehicle drivers who either crossed the center line due to distraction or fatigue or misjudged a passing maneuver. The figures also reveal that passing a large truck can be especially dangerous on major roads.
Drivers are expected to follow traffic laws and take all reasonable steps to avoid an accident, and claims of comparative negligence may be made in car accident lawsuits when plaintiffs were traveling at an excessive speed, tailgating or not wearing their seat belts. While acting negligently does not prevent accident victims from pursuing civil remedies, it could influence the amount of damages they are awarded.