Beyond passing tractor trailers on the highway, we rarely consider the trucks that ship our goods and packages across the country. In fact, unless you have an online order you’re awaiting, chances are good you don’t waste a second thought on the way freight is transferred. The reality is, though, that big rig trucks make up a significant portion of the traffic on our roads. Without an understanding of how they work and the common accidents they find themselves in, you could underestimate the power and potential risks associated with trucks.

Because of the sheer size difference between trucks and the average passenger vehicle, few outside of the trucking industry can appreciate just how dangerous these vehicles are. Since most truck accidents occur on the highway, many incidents also involve high speeds, which make wrecks inherently more risky. The damage done by such accidents is often catastrophic. Here are some other trucking accident facts that you might not know:

Bad Weather Seriously Increases the Risks of an Accident

We all recognize the inherent dangers of driving on wet, icy or snowy roads. Multiply the usual risks by the large weight and size of the average tractor trailer, though, and those same dangers become downright life-threatening. Throw in stiff deadlines and driver fatigue and you have a recipe for disaster.

Thankfully, the federal government has certain requirements for long-haul truckers to abide by in bad weather. Section 392.14 of the U.S. Code of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations states that when truckers are driving in poor weather conditions, they must exercise good judgment and drive as defensively as possible. They’re also required to reduce their speed, use their lights and be ready to stop on a dime. This is harder than you might imagine, with thousands of pounds behind them to weigh them down. Still, following these requirements can prevent accidents and ensure the ones that do occur aren’t as catastrophic as they might have been.

Driver Error is the Leading Cause of Truck Accidents

Truck drivers have special licenses, years of experience behind the wheel and training to handle the unique challenges of driving tractor trailers. Regardless, the American Trucking Association reports that a majority of truck accidents are caused by driver error. When under pressure to meet deadlines and power through long shifts, many drivers turn to substances, both legal and illegal, to get through. From caffeine to more serious drugs, these substances can seriously impact a driver’s decision making skills.

Even when drivers stay clean, fatigue can set in, clouding their ability to make good choices at the wheel. Driving distractedly is another common problem, with truckers facing the same temptations to text and drive as any other motorist. All of these can add up to serious mistakes made at the wheel. Enough of these mistakes can often result in a serious accident.

Maintenance Isn’t Guaranteed

With thousands of trucks criss crossing the heartland every day, you’d expect trucking companies to pay close attention to the maintenance and care of their vehicles. Unfortunately, though, these vehicles aren’t always looked after with care. While it is the responsibility of the driver to thoroughly inspect their vehicle before hitting the road, these inspections become routine, with little care given to the required steps. When the driver is under pressure to head out on the highway, these inspections can be especially shallow. Too often, trucking companies have strict deadlines to meet and send vehicles out without performing the necessary maintenance. Good enough is often, well, good enough.

At least until it isn’t, that is. Poor maintenance is one of the other leading causes of truck crashes, with the trucking company or the truck manufacturer to blame. It can often take months to understand exactly how and why maintenance was neglected, resulting in a lengthy legal battle for liability. This leads to yet another surprising truck accident fact.

Liability Isn’t Always Clear

Trucking companies, their drivers and even the individuals who load the freight can all be held responsible for damage done in an accident. Whereas most collisions between passenger vehicles are limited to the folks directly involved in the wreck, truck accident liability can reach to far corners of the globe. One employee’s failure to properly strap down cargo, for instance, can lead to a truck crash hundreds of miles from the loading dock.

Getting into an accident with a truck is a nightmare for many reasons, but the ongoing legal battle that can wage on for months after a wreck can make a bad situation even worse. An attorney can help investigate the incident and ensure your rights are protected while the trucking company, their driver and insurance company battle it out for the blame. Even if you’re not sure you need a truck accident attorney, speaking with one can help clarify your legal options after a wreck.

If you need help after an accident and aren’t sure where to turn, Lawsuit Info Center is a great place to start. We offer a useful accident settlement calculator that can give you an idea of what your case could be worth and connect you with attorneys in your area. Chat with our helpful representatives today by calling 877-810-4067.