Common Causes of Truck Accidents in California [2024 Updated]

Trucks play a vital role in transporting goods across vast distances, and with the heavy presence of these vehicles on roadways, accidents occur due to driver-related issues and environmental challenges. A California truck accident lawyer can offer support if you are experiencing the challenging aftermath of a truck accident.

Common Causes of Truck Accidents

In an attempt to create safer roads for drivers and pedestrians, it is important to review the common causes of truck accidents. By doing so, drivers can learn from common mistakes, ensure alignment with local laws and regulations, and prevent future accidents from occurring. Below are the most common causes of truck accidents:

  • Distracted Driving: With long hours on the road, truck drivers often use mobile devices to keep themselves engaged, but this can distract them, leading to an accident. Other distractions include anything that takes the driver’s attention away from the primary act of driving. This includes adjusting in-cab technologies, eating, drinking, and speaking on the phone, among others.
  • Speeding: Driving above the indicated speed limit can reduce a driver’s reaction time, making them unable to adjust to traffic changes. This leads to accidents, as a truck requires a longer time to halt compared to other vehicles. Accidents caused by speeding trucks tend to result in more severe outcomes, including serious injuries, death, and property damage.
  • Driver Fatigue: With demanding schedules and long continuous hours on the road, truck drivers often experience high levels of fatigue. To meet deadlines, drivers may try to push past their tiredness, which leads to falling asleep at the wheel and causing accidents.
  • Poor Weather Conditions: Heavy rain, snow, and fog can impact overall road safety, making truck driving challenging. In these adverse weather conditions, trucks require a greater following distance to be able to stop. Poor visibility can lead to devastating crashes.
  • Inadequate Training: Drivers who are improperly trained lack knowledge of truck safety protocols that are essential in the safe operation of this large vehicle.
  • Vehicle Maintenance Issues: Trucks are, at times, pushed beyond proper maintenance requirement standards, leading to mechanical failures, brake malfunctions, and tire blowouts, all of which can lead to accidents. In these cases, trucking companies that fail to maintain their trucks properly may be held liable for damages. If a maintenance service provider was responsible for the accident, they could be held liable as well.
  • Impaired Driving: Driving a truck with impaired abilities from alcohol, drug, or over-the-counter medication use can lead to devastation on the road. Driving under the influence is a breach of a driver’s duty of care in addition to a criminal offense, meaning they can be held liable in a civil claim and face criminal charges and penalties.

Truck accidents often result from a combination of factors, but this should not discourage drivers from taking the utmost responsibility in the operation of their vehicles. There are continual efforts made to improve driver training, technology, and safety regulations to reduce the incident rate of truck accidents.

California Truck Accident Data

There are, on average, 14,000 truck accidents a year, with over 400 of these accidents tragically resulting in fatalities and over 4,000 leading to serious injuries. In 2020, California was the state in which the most non-occupants were killed in truck accidents. Trucks made up 7.3% of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes that same year.

Because trucks are involved in so many fatal accidents, there is an urgent need for California truck drivers to understand how to properly operate their large vehicles and remain aware of their overall role in keeping local roads safe. If your loved one was the victim of such an accident, you could recoup damages by filing a wrongful death claim. With this type of claim, plaintiffs can pursue compensation for funeral and burial expenses, lost income, and medical expenses, among other damages.


Q: What Is the Main Cause of Truck Accidents in California?

A: The main cause of truck accidents in California, but also across the nation, is driver errors. Driver errors encompass a large range of issues, such as distraction, speeding, fatigue, and impaired driving. These factors directly impact a truck driver’s ability to safely operate the vehicle. Fatigue is generally highlighted as a major concern in the trucking industry, as drivers are often working long hours with demanding schedules.

Q: What Is the Most Frequent Type of Vehicle Accident in the Trucking Industry?

A: Rear-end collisions are the most frequent type of vehicle accident in the trucking industry. Rear-end collisions make up over 23% of all truck-involving accidents. The large weight and size of trucks mean that these vehicles require longer stopping distances than most smaller vehicles. Therefore, many rear-end collisions involving trucks occur due to the truck’s inability to stop quickly.

Q: Where Do Most Truck Accidents Occur?

A: Around 57% of fatal truck accidents happen in rural areas, and the second highest location for fatal accidents, at around 25%, is on interstate highways. Several factors contribute to the high rate of truck accidents in rural areas. Rural roads can have less maintenance, traffic, and street lights, making the driving conditions less straightforward than urban and highway driving.

Q: What Is the Number One Injury for Truck Drivers?

A: A common injury for truck drivers is musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) of the back, neck, and upper extremities. These injuries are often caused by the overexertion of drivers when loading and unloading the truck. Truckers also risk falling from the high elevation of their trucks. These falls typically lead to back and knee sprains.

Contact a California Truck Accident Lawyer

If you have been impacted by a truck accident and are seeking legal counsel for your next steps, Belgum, Fry & Van Allen are available to support you. Our team of California-based truck accident lawyers can offer you quality support and advice throughout the legal process.

We are familiar with local California laws and regulations related to vehicle accidents. With our extensive knowledge and experience, we can advocate for your rights and negotiate an optimal outcome for your claim. Contact us today for a consultation.