What Causes Highway Accidents

According to the National Safety Council, 107,000 large trucks caused injury-related accidents in 2020, many of which occurred on the highway. A further 4,965 people died in truck-related accidents. Many other highway accidents happen that involve passenger vehicles, motorcycles, and more. 

Below are some common causes of vehicle accidents on the highway, including semi-truck crashes. If someone else causes a highway crash, injured victims have important rights. Never hesitate to speak with a personal injury lawyer in Chicago about legal options. 

Driver Fatigue

Typically, a truck driver can spend over 10 hours on the road. As such, they’re likely to suffer driver fatigue with signs such as tiredness, drowsiness, and sleepiness. Some companies design incentive structures based on hours, compounding the problem of driver fatigue.

A tired driver can have impaired decision-making abilities. As such, they cannot perceive, react, and deal with emergencies on the road. For instance, if the truck veers into another lane, a tired driver might not realize it until it’s too late.

Signs of fatigue include:

  • Boredom
  • Yawning
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Restlessness
  • Exhausted eyes


Although major truck companies use speed trackers and limits, some companies lack the technology. Keep in mind that semi-trucks are larger than passenger vehicles, increasing the risk of accidents.

Here’s how speeding accelerates the risk of crashing: 

  • The truck driver needs more time to avoid a collision with a car or obstacle suddenly on its path.
  • A truck driver has better control in straightways but can quickly lose control at corners while speeding.

Overspeeding does not only increase the risk of a crash but the severity of a resulting accident. A semi-truck driver cruising at 90mph can cause more severe injuries, damage, and fatalities than a truck moving at 55mph.

Distracted Driving

Distraction is a common problem, and the long hours on the highway make distracted driving a risk for semi-truck drivers. Distracted driving has similar consequences as other negligence, such as speeding, aggressive driving, or impaired driving.

Distracted driving occurs when a driver loses concentration while responding to stimuli. Common examples include eating, drinking, using a cell phone, operating a radio, or typing an address in a GPS. Ultimately, drivers miss potential hazards, vehicles, or rough sections on the highway, leading to accidents.

Vehicle Failure

Fleet companies are obliged to operate well-maintained semi-trucks. However, the maintenance crew can overlook some aspects contributing to vehicle failure. Some vehicle defects that lead to accidents include breaks, defective headlights, faulty wiring, or worn-out windshield wipers.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration(FMCSA) study on large truck crash causation, vehicle defects contributed to 10% of all accidents. 

Talk To a Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Today

A Semi-truck accident can leave victims or loved ones with fatal or long-term injuries and losses. In addition, accidents disrupt the lives of victims through mounting medical bills, long-term disability, and pain and suffering. Malman Law has a team of experienced lawyers ready to pursue rightful compensation for accident victims. Contact the firm today for a free case review.

Author: Brandon Park