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Common Causes of West Virginia Truck Accidents


18-wheelers, semis, and other large trucks are a necessary part of U.S. commerce.  Truck drivers, unfortunately, face long hours, boring stretches of empty road between destinations, and high stress.  Freight companies are known to cut costs by omitting safety checks, skipping vehicle equipment upgrades, and encouraging drivers to push past limits on driving hours, among other unsafe practices.  When unsafe trucks are on the road, everyone is at risk.  Below we discuss some of the more common causes of truck accidents in West Virginia and around the country.

Driver Fatigue

Truck drivers are expected to haul their cargo vast distances, often across the entire country, in a matter of days.  This means hours and hours of pure driving, occasionally stopping at rest stops.  Federal law limits how many hours a trucker can drive without taking a break and how many active driving hours a trucker is allowed per week or similar time period, but freight companies often overtly or subtly encourage drivers to ignore these rules to make trips faster and earn more revenue for the drivers and the companies.  Lack of sleep combined with long, unbroken, and often boring stretches of road can lead to drivers falling asleep at the wheel, zoning out, or otherwise dozing off and causing an accident.

Alcohol and Drug Usage

As a result of driver fatigue and boredom, truck drivers are often tempted to take supplements to help them push through the long hours and sleepless nights.  Uppers can keep a truck driver awake but will affect their ability to respond quickly to unexpected dangers on the road, whether it be a road hazard such as a felled tree or another driver’s sudden stop or swerve. 

Additionally, truck drivers, like other drivers on the road, may drink alcohol before and during long hauls to help pass the time.  Driving a tractor-trailer while under the influence is doubly dangerous for the driver and everyone else on the road.

Insufficient Driver Training or Truck Maintenance

Freight companies are responsible for ensuring that their drivers are properly licensed and trained.  They must also ensure that trucks in their fleet comply with safety regulations and are upgraded with the most current safety technology, such as automatic brakes and hours-recording programs.  Equipment failure is a very common cause of fatal truck accidents.  Freight companies that choose to ignore safety and maintenance out of negligence or to cut costs put other motorists at risk of a catastrophic accident.  Likewise, if a truck was manufactured with defective parts, then the parts or truck manufacturer may be liable.

Aggressive Driving: Speeding and Overtaking

Truck drivers want to get to their destination just as much as any other driver.  When they feel a car or truck in front of them is slowing things down, they may pursue aggressive driving tactics such as speeding or overtaking with limited space.  Aggressive driving while operating a massive truck can be extremely dangerous for everyone in the vicinity.

Distracted Driving

Truckers, like other drivers, get bored.  They want to return texts or emails or perform other tasks such as eating or changing clothes while driving.  Taking your eyes off the road for just a second or two can easily lead to a serious accident.


If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck crash in West Virginia, contact the seasoned and effective Martinsburg personal injury attorneys Burke, Schultz, Harman & Jenkinson at 304-263-0900 or (304) LAWYERS for a free consultation.

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