Truck Accidents In California: Causes, Statistics, And More

Written By Alla Levin
June 02, 2021
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Truck Accidents In California: Causes, Statistics, And More

Large trucks play an integral part in the US economy, seeing as they carry and transport essential goods both across and inside states. They are also among the many motor vehicles that travel US roads daily, making them subject to frequent road accidents. 

Although any motor vehicle accident can lead to injuries and fatalities, the risk of a serious injury or death is gravely increased when a large truck is involved. The sheer size and weight of the trucks are incomparable to that of typical passenger vehicles, especially if those vehicles are cars or light trucks. In the event of a collision, the smaller vehicle offers little to no protection against the large and heavy truck.

Fatal crashes involving at least one large truck totaled 5,005 in 2019 in the US. Unsurprisingly, the majority of deaths in these crashes are occupants of other vehicles (71%). The other victims were the truck occupants, but also non-occupants such as pedestrians or cyclists. 

California is no exception when it comes to truck accidents. Accidents involving semi-trucks and other large commercial vehicles are a particular and ongoing concern on California’s highways and other roads. Before looking at the specifics of truck-related accidents in California, we must first consider what causes most truck accidents and why they account for as many fatalities.

Most Common Causes Of California Truck Accidents

The risk of a truck accident is relatively larger, to begin with since large commercial trucks are typically more difficult to maneuver, have a longer break time, and have more blind spots than smaller vehicles.

Despite the difficulties associated with driving these vehicles, the majority of truck accidents occur due to drivers’ negligence. Common causes for truck accidents in California include:

  • Fast driving
  • Unsafe lane switching
  • Driving under the influence
  • Not providing enough space for stopping or turning
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Not following traffic rules or signs

Another cause of truck accidents is equipment failure, such as faulty brakes or lights. Certain types of large trucks also carry materials that can interfere with other vehicles on the road by spilling, falling, or flying loose.

Truck Accidents Statistics For CaliforniaTruck Accidents In California

California is one of the top 10 states per number of truck accidents in the US, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Most crashes in California occur on highways. On average, over a thousand truck accidents occur on highways I-5 and I-10 every year, many of which are catastrophic. Additionally, in 2018, Highway 99 was proclaimed to be the most dangerous roadway in the United States.

Estimates show that California suffers an average of around 100 fatal truck crashes per year. Over the past decade, between 200 and 300 deaths were recorded yearly. Truck accidents in California are mainly concentrated in large, urban areas like Los Angeles County. According to the California Highway Patrol, over 20% of truck accident fatalities and nearly 30% of truck accident injuries in California take place in Los Angeles County.

Most Common Commercial Tractor Accidents In California: Rollover Accidents

Rollovers occur either when the vehicle hits an obstacle like a curb or another vehicle, or when another factor such as unsafe driving, speeding, or a slippery roadway causes the truck to roll over. These accidents endanger everyone on the road and usually lead to multiple vehicles piling up.

Jackknife Accidents

Semi-trucks contain two connected parts – the cab that contains the engine and the trailer that follows behind. Jackknifing refers to the event when the trailer folds on its cab, resembling the angle of a folding pocket knife. The most common causes of jackknife accidents are speeding, turning too steeply, and weather conditions.

Underride Accidentstruck accidents in California

An underride accident is a terrifying accident that occurs when a smaller vehicle plunges into the back or the side of a tractor-trailer and slides underneath it. Keeping a safe distance from trucks can help prevent these types of accidents.

Rear-end collisions

FMCSA states that a fully loaded semi-truck that is traveling at highway speeds can take about the length of two football fields to arrive at a full stop. Unfavorable weather, inferior road conditions, driver errors, and other factors can increase the stopping distance and are therefore common causes for rear-end collisions.

Common Injuries From Truck Accidents

A truck accident can result in serious, if not deadly, consequences. Due to the trucks’ large size and weight, the injuries are typically more severe than those sustained in other motor vehicle crashes. Some common injuries from truck accidents are:

  • Broken bones
  • Rib and torso injuries
  • Back and neck injuries
  • Head injuries
  • Spinal cord injury or paralysis
  • Internal injuries
  • Lacerations

Many California truck accident victims have long recovery periods and associated financial hardship in the weeks, months, or sometimes years following the accident. It is, therefore, crucial to take precautions with the medical and legal implications if you, or a close one, have been in a truck accident.

Actions To Take After You Have Been In A Truck Accident: Seek Medical Attention

It is extremely important to seek medical attention immediately after a truck crash. Due to the potential severity of the injuries related to truck accidents, you must take the utmost precaution when moving passengers or non-passengers that appear injured, especially in the case of spine or back injuries.

Gather Evidence

Take pictures of the scene and record any statements or details that might be pertinent to the case. Collect insurance and contact information from the truck driver and all other drivers involved in the accident. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible, although we recommend you don’t give them a statement until you speak to a lawyer.

Contact A LawyerContact A Lawyer

Determining who is at fault for a truck accident in California can be tricky, as there are many parties involved: the truck driver, the driver’s employer, the owner of the truck, the company that contracted the driver, the company that loaded the vehicle, the person responsible for the vehicle’s maintenance and others. An experienced lawyer can guide you through the potentially lengthy and complicated legal process that involves state, federal, and local laws.

Final Thoughts

Although any motor vehicle crash can cause injuries and fatalities, the risk of a serious injury or death is gravely higher in truck accidents. With so many fatalities occurring every year because of these accidents in California, knowing what causes them and how to take precautions both preventatively and after an accident can save your or someone else’s life. If you need help with the legal proceedings of a truck accident, we recommend you contact a California accident attorney.

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