Believe it or not, about 200 accidents occur in Oklahoma each day. Many of these accidents involve a semi truck, and many are deadly or cause catastrophic permanent injuries. Semi-truck accidents can happen for various reasons, and it’s essential to understand these factors to help make Oklahoma’s roads safer for everyone.
Our OKC-based attorneys are sharing about this topic because in 2021, there were 112 fatalities in car accidents in Oklahoma involving large trucks, according to the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety Data. In the context of overall crash data for the state, large truck crashes caused more fatalities and injuries than other types of collisions. Every day, our experienced Oklahoma car accident attorneys help individuals who have been severely injured because of accidents involving large trucks.
If you have already been involved in an accident with a large truck and have sustained permanent catastrophic injury because of the collision, the Maples, Nix & Diesselhorst team is here to help you seek justice and compensation for those injuries. Contact our team today for a free case evaluation.
10 Common Causes of Semi-Truck Accidents in Oklahoma
Maybe you call it a tractor-trailer, 18-wheeler, transport truck, mac truck, or big rig… regardless of the name you use, our team is discussing accidents involving large commercial trucks. They are commonplace in our everyday lives, but by taking a minute to read more about large truck accidents, you can ensure safety for yourself and perhaps others on the road before an accident occurs.
- Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is anything that diverts a driver’s attention away from the road. We’ve previously written about this topic in-depth, but it always bears repeating. Stay focused on the task at hand – driving your vehicle. Drivers engaging in activities like texting, talking on the phone, or other distractions like eating, messing with the radio, or helping your children in the back seat, unintentionally create a hazardous environment on the road. The size and weight of semi-trucks make them inherently more dangerous when involved in accidents, and distracted driving heightens this risk.
Remember, in Oklahoma, it is prohibited for all drivers to text while driving. The law includes reading or sending texts, text-based emails, videos and photos, and instant messages while driving a vehicle. An officer can pull you over and issue a citation for texting and driving.
- Driver Fatigue or Drowsy Driving
Driver fatigue significantly contributes to semi-truck accidents because of the impact it has on a driver’s physical and mental capabilities. Fatigue results in slower reaction times, which impairs a driver’s ability to respond quickly to emergencies or sudden changes on the road. Fatigue also impacts coordination, affecting the ability to steer, maintain lane position, and execute driving maneuvers. Both passenger car drivers and large truck drivers should take frequent breaks and quickly find a safe place to rest if they feel drowsy.
- Excessive Speed
Speeding creates a risk for everyone on the road. Whether in a truck or passenger car, speeding is risky and illegal. Large trucks require much longer distances to come to a stop when traveling at high speeds, and speeding also intensifies the impact of a crash leading to more severe injuries and damage.
To ensure road safety, all drivers (not only those in large trucks) should adhere to speed limits. Whether you’re driving along a crowded I-35 corridor or headed east on a rural stretch of I-44, don’t speed. Our decades of experience in car accident law have repeatedly proved the importance of following the posted speed limit.
- Equipment Failure
Mechanical failures can lead to accidents if they cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle. For example:
- Tire Blowout – a blowout can result in the truck swerving unpredictably, creating an unsafe threat to surrounding vehicles.
- Brake Failure – with a brake failure, the truck may be unable to stop or slow down quickly, increasing the likelihood of collisions.
- Poorly Maintained or Faulty Equipment – other various types of equipment failure can also lead to stability issues, rollovers, or jackknifing incidents.
If you are driving near a large truck, keep potential equipment failures in mind. Pass quickly and safely, use your signals, maintain a safe distance from the vehicle ahead of you, and stay out of blind spots.
- Poor Weather Conditions
Rain, snow, ice, and fog can create dangerous conditions for semi-trucks and other vehicles on the road. These conditions can reduce visibility and traction.
You may know firsthand that ice and snow can pose a risk of skidding and loss of control in Oklahoma. Oklahoma winter weather notoriously deposits slippery black ice on our roadways, which can result in accidents across the state. To mitigate these risks, all drivers should adapt their driving to the weather conditions, reduce speed, maintain a safe following distance, and prioritize safety. Also, winter is a great time to ensure your roadside emergency kit is in your vehicle.
- Driving Under the Influence
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol poses severe risks, especially when operating a large truck or driving near one. When drivers operate under the influence of alcohol or drugs, their cognitive and motor skills are impaired, leading to compromised judgment and slower reaction times. Impaired semi-truck drivers may struggle to maintain control of their trucks, and all impaired drivers may make unpredictable decisions when driving that put them, and others on the road, at risk.
- Failure to Secure Cargo or Loads
When cargo is incorrectly loaded or not adequately secured, it can shift during transit, leading to changes in the truck’s center of gravity. Instability in the truck increases the risk of rollovers, especially during turns or sudden maneuvers. Unevenly distributed weight can affect braking performance, making it harder for the truck to stop effectively. This can also lead to rear-end collisions. In extreme cases, improperly loaded cargo can spill onto the road or fly off the truck through the air, creating hazards for other vehicles.
- Road Conditions and Design
Poorly designed roads, inadequate signage, and lack of proper maintenance can cause uneven surfaces, potholes, or vague lane markings. These conditions can be challenging for large vehicles like semi-trucks to navigate (and frustrating for drivers), increasing the risk of accidents.
Other hazards related to road design and conditions include:
- Unmarked or poorly marked construction zones
- Inadequate drainage systems and pooling water
- Insufficient lighting on roads causing reduced visibility
- Unmarked highway lanes or other ambiguity because of unclear navigational markers
- Poor Vehicle Maintenance
Poorly maintained trucks are more likely to experience mechanical failures, like those mentioned above. Regular and thorough maintenance ensures all components operate efficiently–for both semis and passenger cars–reducing the risk of equipment-related accidents and enhancing overall road safety.
- Reckless Driving
In general, reckless driving is a hazard all Oklahoma drivers should avoid. Tailgating, abrupt lane changes, and excessive speeding can lead to collisions and loss of control. The sheer size and weight of semi-trucks intensify the impact of reckless driving, causing more severe accidents with other vehicles. If you’re feeling emotional, anxious, sad, angry, or otherwise unable to drive with a clear mind and while following the laws of the road, don’t risk going and putting others in danger, especially when there may be large trucks around.
Find Help After A Semi Truck Accident
If you have been the victim of an accident involving a semi-truck accident in Oklahoma, you should have an attorney to support and counsel you as you seek justice and compensation. The Maples, Nix & Diesselhorst attorneys are committed to providing helpful and proven expertise to each client. Our compassion and experienced team set our firm apart. Contact us today for a free consultation.