Trucking accidents in Montana are frightening to think about: The speed of semi trucks. The rural roads. The fact that the average 18-wheeler weighs about 80,000 lbs, while the average passenger vehicle only weighs 4,000. It’s an unpleasant situation to consider. Unfortunately, trucking accidents are common in the Big Sky State. While there’s no way to eliminate these accidents, understanding the most common causes of them can help you protect yourself and your passengers.
Here’s what you need to know.
5 Common Causes of Trucking Accidents in Montana
From driver error to vehicle issues, here are the five most common causes of dangerous semi-truck accidents in Montana:
1. Driver Mistakes
As unfortunate as it may be, the top cause of trucking accidents in Montana is driver error. Even though semi truck drivers go through additional training and have increased responsibility for safe driving, they’re only human. This means they make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are preventable. Sometimes they’re not. Some semi-truck accidents are caused by reckless, drunk, or distracted semi-truck operators.
In most cases, though, the person responsible for a semi-truck accident is the driver of the passenger vehicle. According to a 2013 paper published by the American Trucking Associations, 81% of trucking accidents are caused by the passenger vehicle operator, while only 22% are the fault of the truck driver. This means anyone operating a passenger vehicle on Montana roads must be careful to practice defensive driving to keep themselves and their families safe.
2. Sub-Par Vehicle Maintenance
Semi-trucks crisscross the country all year long. Any given truck on the road can drive hundreds or even thousands of miles in a given day. Because they cover so much ground, it’s especially critical for semi-trucks to get the maintenance they require. When this doesn’t happen, though, equipment failure becomes a real risk. Even simple things, like worn-out brake pads, can easily lead to a fatal car accident.
3. Bad Weather and Poor Visibility
Montana is a massive state with many rural roads and lots of unpredictable weather. Even though most truck drivers have extensive training in how to drive in poor weather (and how to do things like put on tire chains), elements like snow and driving rain can still create unsafe driving conditions. Because semi trucks are much heavier and have much slower stopping speeds than passenger vehicles, truckers must be careful to drive defensively during bad weather and to learn proper defensive driving techniques to keep themselves and other drivers safe.
4. Uneven Cargo
Most semis on the road today are carrying tens of thousands of pounds. These loads come in all shapes and sizes. In some cases, the load is produce. In others, it’s home goods or manufacturing parts. No matter what a truck is hauling, though, proper load balance is critical for safety. When a load is stacked or arranged improperly, it starts to throw off the balance of the vehicle. This, in turn, can result in loads that fall out of a truck into the road, or that cause a trailer to shift off-balance, resulting in skidding, fishtailing, jackknifing, or turnovers.
5. Equipment Failure
Even if a vehicle has been appropriately cared for and maintained, equipment failure happens. Defective parts can cause a catastrophe on Montana roadways. If faulty parts have caused a semi-truck accident, it’s likely that the manufacturer is liable for the accident and the damages therein. While there’s no explicit protection against defensive parts, truckers can protect themselves and other drivers by being vigilant about recalls and ensuring they’re paying attention to any warning signs their vehicle may issue.
Staying Safe on MT Roads
While there’s no way to stop trucking accidents entirely, educating yourself about the causes of trucking accidents is an excellent way to stay safe on MT roadways. If you are involved in an MT trucking accident, don’t wait to seek representation from a skilled attorney. McGrady Law is here to assist you with your trucking accident litigation and recovery. Contact us today to learn more!