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Research Shows Causes of Rear-End Truck Accidents


Trucks are more difficult to maneuver than other vehicles on the road and truck accidents are among the most dangerous for obvious reasons. While more than 4 percent of registered vehicles in the country are large trucks, they make up 8 percent of all miles travelled, so commercial-truck operators do a lot of driving. Unfortunately, about 400,000 trucks are involved in big-rig accidents each year.

Recent data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration showcases the risks of rear-end collisions with commercial trucks. The data shows that trucks are far more likely to strike other vehicles in rear-end collisions than other vehicles are likely to strike trucks. During the six-year span of one study, 42,000 collisions involved trucks rear ending other vehicles, with only 28,000 involving trucks themselves being rear-ended. However, fatal crashes were more likely to involve other vehicles striking trucks by a factor of nearly two to one.

Size Makes Trucks Dangerous

According to the FMCSA, trucks are more likely to strike cars than vice versa because of the difficulty in maneuvering and slowing trucks. Most trucks are at least 40 times heavier than other vehicle types and require longer distances to slow down. More than half of the trucks involved in fatal accidents were large truck tractors pulling semitrailers.

Other Risk Factors

The FMCSA found that automobiles are also likely to strike trucks because of poor roadway lighting and car-driver alcohol use, especially in fatal cases. Almost 16 percent of car drivers who struck trucks in fatal accidents were intoxicated. Trucks struck by other vehicles were also more likely to have rear-light violations.

On the other hand, when trucks hit other vehicle types, the FMCSA concluded that faulty truck brakes were often a contributing factor. In one Michigan study, more than half of trucks that rear-ended other vehicles had brake-related safety violations.

Overall, rear-end crashes were more likely to occur on divided roadways and interstate highways. Researchers suggest that this may be because drivers tend to let down their guards on these types of roads.


Cars and their drivers are extremely vulnerable in accidents with much heavier trucks. Automobile drivers need to be alert, especially when driving in dark or dangerous conditions. A car driver should leave an extra buffer for a truck in front or behind, never following too closely behind a truck. When possible, drivers of smaller vehicles should change lanes or pull over if a truck wants to pass or is following too closely.

A person who is injured by the negligence of a truck driver or any other motorist may be entitled to medical expenses and lost wages. The injured motorist may also be awarded damages for pain and suffering. A personal injury attorney can help navigate the legal process, handling the accident claim and communication with insurance companies and other involved parties for the victim.

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