What Are the Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Miami?

Driving a large commercial truck is difficult, requiring a special set of skills. Considering how much trouble some drivers have managing a regular vehicle, it’s no surprise that even professional drivers have lapses that lead to major truck accidents in Miami.

Compensation for Your Truck Accident

Not every Miami truck crash involves driver mistakes, but a great many do involve negligence. Negligence can refer to a truck driver who fails to check their mirrors before merging, but it can also apply to a carrier that fails to keep their fleet vehicles maintained according to federal and state laws.

At Steinger, Greene & Feiner, we have seen many harrowing truck collisions on Miami’s roads and highways. If you’ve recently been hurt in a collision with a large commercial vehicle, contact us to speak with a Miami truck accident lawyer

Your attorney can manage your case and help you identify the negligence in your accident. By proving negligence after a serious injury, you can file a claim for all of your accident-related injury losses, including medical treatment, lost wages, and more.

Find out about your available options during a free, no-obligation case review by calling (800) 801-6850 or contacting us online today.

When trying to prove fault in a Miami truck accident, here are some of the most common causes that we look for.

Driver-Related Factors Top List of Miami Truck Accident Causes

The most comprehensive truck accident cause analysis that has been performed comes from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Their large truck causation study analyzed 120,000 fatal truck collisions from April 2001 to December 2003. While this data may not be incredibly recent, it is still highly relevant and an important milestone in truck collision research.

According to the study, 87% of all collisions involve driver-related factors. That includes issues with recognizing hazards (28% of accidents), making the right decision to avert a collision (38%), or failing to perform in a way that could have prevented the collision (12%).

Brake Problems

The FMCSA study reveals that even though drivers are the main source of truck accident causation, brake problems top the list in terms of overall causal factors. Twenty-nine percent of truck accidents in the study involved faulty brakes. 

Many truck braking problems stem from negligence. For instance, the truck owner may have failed to inspect the truck and properly maintain it, as they are required to by federal law. The brakes themselves may have also had defects, allowing the accident victim to file a defective products claim.

Often, braking issues represent a failure of the last-line-of-defense against a collision once other mistakes have been made. In other words, an initial driver error or other issue set the chain of events leading to the collision in motion, and when brakes fail, they are unable to correct these mistakes.

Traveling Too Fast for Conditions

Drivers are expected to navigate Miami’s roads at speeds where they can safely maneuver their trucks. Unfortunately, many trucking companies pressure their drivers to meet unrealistic schedules, encouraging them to drive faster than they should. This is especially dangerous on roads and highway offramps with tight curves because trucks must take turns at a slower speed than the average vehicle.

Note that “too fast for conditions” may not mean violating the speed limit. To attest that a driver was negligent during a truck accident lawsuit, your attorney may need the opinions of professional fact witnesses familiar with truck dynamics and the roadway in question.

Unfamiliar with Roadway

The trucking industry tasks drivers with traveling winding routes all across the U.S. As a result, being in unfamiliar territory is the norm. This unfamiliarity can lead to critical mistakes and judgment errors.

For example, Miami’s I-95 is notoriously dangerous, ranking as one of the deadliest roads in the U.S. The difficulty of changing lanes at high speeds to make exits in time can catch unfamiliar drivers off guard. Since truck drivers need more space to maneuver and change lanes, issues like these can dramatically raise the risk of a collision.

Over-the-Counter Drug Use

OTC drug use was found to be a factor in 17% of collisions, according to the FMCSA.

Many truck drivers will use stimulants like caffeine or ephedrine so they can feel awake and alert during long hauls. Unfortunately, “feeling” awake and having complete control of your faculties are two different things. Jitteriness, an inability to focus, and latent fatigue can all contribute to an accident.

Drowsy Driving

The pressure truck drivers face can encourage them to work long hours and deprive themselves of sleep. Unfortunately, drowsy driving is as dangerous as drunk driving. Sleepy truck drivers will have limited ability to observe hazards, delayed reaction times, and poor judgment.

It is not uncommon after a major truck accident in Miami to find out that the driver stayed up for 14 hours or more. This can be a direct violation of federal regulations governing limited hours of service.

Distracted Driving

Just like the rest of us, truck drivers can get distracted on the road. However, when your job involves driving a large vehicle for miles of highway, these distractions pose much bigger risks.

Truck driver distractions include those found inside and outside the cab. Adjusting cab controls, getting absorbed in music, eating while driving, and cell phone use can take a driver’s eyes off the road during critical moments. Outside distractions can be just as bad, including other vehicles, billboards, local sights, and accidents on the side of the road.

Following Too Closely

Because of their weight, commercial semi trucks require much longer braking distances to stop compared to the average vehicle. A truck traveling at 65 mph may require up to 200 yards to come to a complete stop. That’s the length of two football fields.

When trucks follow someone too closely and that person needs to brake suddenly, the truck driver does not have the time and space to react. This chain of events is why many truck accidents occur during traffic peaks in big metro areas like Miami.

Wide Turns or Improper Lane Changes

Pulling a large trailer makes it difficult to see vehicles behind you, and it also means any sort of lane change or turn will require more space. When a truck driver merges, changes lanes, or attempts a wide turn, there is a chance that others could get hung up on the trailer, causing an accident.

Cargo Shifts

Improperly loaded cargo can cause a big truck to lurch suddenly, making it difficult to control the vehicle. If this load shift happens at an inopportune time, such as when the truck is attempting to take an exit ramp in heavy traffic, then the driver could easily lose control and cause an accident.

Under the Influence of Drugs and/or Alcohol

Drug and alcohol abuse is a fairly common problem in the trucking industry. Drivers often turn to drugs like marijuana and alcohol to combat boredom. They may abuse amphetamines and cocaine to stay awake during long hauls. They may be abusing other substances because their atypical work environment allows them to function under-the-radar.

The trucking industry is heavily regulated, which includes mandatory oversight of drug use among drivers. Employers are expected to perform pre-employment screenings in order to rule out candidates who test positive. 

However, it should be noted that employers have been granted leeway during times of emergency, such as the COVID-19 crisis. This has allowed some carriers to waive testing requirements if the “necessary resources” needed to screen applicants cannot be located after a “reasonable effort.”

A lack of screening and oversight on the part of an employer can often be a key component of proving negligence in Miami truck accident cases.

Other Common Causes of Miami Truck Accidents

  • Tire problems
  • Defective vehicle parts
  • Improper driver surveillance (not paying attention)
  • Driver illness
  • Roadway construction or other environmental issues
  • Road rage
  • Dangerous maneuvers
  • Pressure from employers and contract awarders

Work with an Experienced Miami Car Accident Attorney to Identify Your Accident’s Cause

Every truck accident case is unique, but many have common recurring factors. When you hire an experienced Miami truck accident attorney, they can use their knowledge of past cases and industry regulations to identify all possible sources of negligence. They can then assist you with filing a claim for all of your accident losses.

Call Steinger, Greene & Feiner today to learn more about your available options after you’ve been hurt in a truck accident in Miami. You can reach us at (800) 801-6850 or contact us online to schedule your free, no-obligation case review now.