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

There are about 20 truck accidents in Wisconsin every single day, according to the Department of Transportation (DOT). This is based on truck accident data from the past five years. If you exclude 2020—when there were far fewer drivers on Wisconsin’s roads due to the pandemic—the average is significantly higher.  

While this is a sobering statistic, what is even more sobering is the fact that the vast majority of these accidents are preventable. Most large truck accidents involve negligence on the part of the truck driver or an issue with the truck itself, and neither of these is an excuse for putting someone else in harm’s way. As a result, when truck accidents happen, victims and their families will often have claims for financial compensation.

7 Leading Causes of Large Truck Accidents in Wisconsin

Filing a claim after a truck accident starts with determining the specific cause of the crash. Here are some of the most common causes of truck accidents in Wisconsin—all of which can justify claims for just compensation: 

1. Distracted Truck Driving

Distracted driving is a leading cause of all types of vehicle collisions. Drivers who are distracted behind the wheel aren’t paying attention to the task at hand, and this means that they are far more likely to cause a serious or fatal collision. 

Truck drivers are susceptible to a variety of distractions. Texting, scrolling social media, watching videos, communicating over the radio, and following GPS directions are all distractions that take truck drivers’ eyes and minds off of the road—and in some cases take their hands off of the wheel. While truckers often spend 10 or more hours behind the wheel in a single day, this is not an excuse for letting distractions put others’ safety and lives at risk. 

2. Fatigued Truck Driving

Fatigue is also a significant concern with truck drivers due to the number of hours they spend on the road. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “[i]mpairments due to sleep deprivation are similar to impairments due to alcohol intoxication.” As a result, when a truck driver hasn’t gotten enough rest, this can also significantly increase his or her risk of causing a collision. 

3. Following Too Closely 

Following too closely is unsafe in any vehicle. But, it is especially unsafe in a large truck weighing as much as 80,000 pounds. When truck drivers are following too closely, they don’t have as much time to react to issues on the road, and they don’t have as much room to stop without causing a rear-end collision. 

Not only is following too closely dangerous, but it is also against the law in Wisconsin. As the DOT explains, “Wisconsin law is clear on tailgating: ‘The operator of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.’” As a result, if a truck driver is tailgating in the moments leading up to an accident, this alone can be enough to establish a claim. 

4. Merging, Changing Lanes, or Turning Without Looking

Along with following too closely, many other types of driving mistakes can (and frequently do) lead to truck accidents as well. These include merging, changing lanes, and turning without looking. Truck drivers need to be aware of their surroundings; and, if they aren’t sure whether it is safe to merge, change lanes, or turn, then they need to wait until they are. 

5. Losing Control Under Braking 

When truck drivers need to slow down suddenly, they must be careful to avoid losing control. Losing control under braking is also a common truck driving mistake—and it is a mistake that can lead to serious multi-vehicle accidents on the highway and in other high-traffic areas. 

6. Inadequate Truck Maintenance 

Inadequate truck maintenance is a common factor in truck accidents as well. Semi-trucks and other large commercial trucks require regular maintenance in order to be safe for the road. Failure to replace worn tires and brake pads, failure to change engine oil and other fluids, and failure to replace burnt-out light bulbs are all common maintenance issues that can create dangerous situations on the road. 

7. Cargo-Related Issues 

Whether a truck is overloaded or its cargo is inadequately secured, cargo-related issues can also leave truck drivers helpless to avoid serious and fatal accidents. Shipping companies, trucking companies, retailers, and other businesses all have a duty to ensure that the cargo loaded onto tractor-trailers and other large commercial trucks is safe for the road. When a cargo-related issue leads to an accident, multiple companies could potentially be liable, and determining which company (or companies) are liable is a key step toward recovering just compensation. 

Speak with a Madison Truck Accident Lawyer for Free

If you need to know more about filing a claim after a truck accident in Wisconsin, we encourage you to get in touch. 
For a FREE, no-obligation case evaluation with a Madison truck accident lawyer at Boller & Vaughan, please call 608-268-0268 or request an appointment online today. We welcome clients from Madison and across Wisconsin.