“Truck Accident” vs. “Truck Crash”: The Case for At-Fault Language

 In Trucking Accident

When an “Accident” Is Not an Accident

There are over 400,000 large trucks involved in accidents in the United States in a year, but how many of those collisions can truly be considered an “accident?” While many would define an “accident” as an unintentional event, the word also implies a degree of random chance and inevitability. However, truck crashes are rarely the result of pure chance. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, only 10% of truck wrecks may be considered genuine “accidents,” meaning that there was no feasible action the driver could have taken to avoid the crash. That means 90% or more of the truck wrecks that occur are someone’s fault. Using the word “accident” in the case of these driver-caused collisions avoids assigning responsibility and blame to the people who cause these wrecks and their devastating consequences.

The harsh truth is that when a vehicle collision happens, someone is almost always responsible. The majority of crashes involving large trucks are caused by what the NHTSA refers to as driver-related recognition and decision factors. In other words, the majority of “accidents” are actually the result of driver errors such as fatigue, alcohol, drugs, inattention, inadequate surveillance, following too closely, faulty brakes, and miscalculating distances.

Furthermore, studies show that in the majority of cases, the driver of the truck is the one cited for causing the wreck. Other causes we have seen contributing to wrecks by trucking companies include the negligent (inadequate) training, hiring, supervision and retention of commercial truck drivers.

Using the word “accident” to describe a collision lulls drivers and the general public into a false sense of inevitability, when in truth both improved technology and more comprehensive and thorough driver training programs could prevent the majority of large truck crashes.

Rules and regulations already exist to help decrease the occurrence of these collisions, including limiting the hours that a truck driver is permitted to work per week and ensuring that trucks are up to code. So why isn’t more being done?

Safety Takes a Backseat to Profits

The answer is that safety measures are expensive (at least in the short term) from the perspective of trucking companies. There are always organizations pushing to relax or revoke rules and regulations in order to increase short-term profits.

Referring to truck wrecks as “accidents” fuels these short-sighted efforts; if the public perceives truck “accidents” as random events instead of preventable crashes, then they are less likely to see the importance of stepping in and fighting to maintain or increase safety measures for large trucks and buses.

For example, advanced technologies already exist to help counter the effects of truck driver fatigue. Lane departure warning and forward collision warning systems are just two of the technologies available to help prevent crashes from even occurring. Many of these life-saving technologies are expensive, however, and companies aren’t required by law to provide them in their trucks.

RELATED: Who Is Liable In a Trucking Accident, the Trucker or the Company?

For the most part, truck crashes do not happen for no reason; they are the result of driver-related errors. Truck collisions are only “accidents” in the sense that they are not intentional. Using terms like “crash” and “wreck” is important because there are individual actions and public safety measures that can prevent the damage, injuries, and even deaths that result from devastating truck wrecks.

Rather than merely accepting the false premise that these crashes are random and inevitable, victims who have been injured or lost a loved one in a large truck crash need to stand up and seek justice. The first and simplest step to help them involves calling truck wrecks what they are.

Truck Wreck Justice: Helping Trucking Crash Victims

Here on the Truck Wreck Justice team, we know that most truck collisions are no accident. If you have been injured or lost a loved one as a result of a large truck or bus crash, Truck Wreck Justice Attorney Morgan Adams is here to help. With years of experience and a sole focus on trucking cases, Morgan Adams has the skillset and expert resources needed to tackle the complex challenges of your trucking accident case.

Please contact Truck Wreck Justice at (432) 265-2020 or fill out our online contact form if you need legal representation or assistance. We offer free consultations during which we can assess your situation and discuss your legal options, and we handle cases on a contingent fee basis, which means that you won’t pay for fees or case expenses unless we achieve a financial recovery in your case.


Kingsley, K. J. (n.d.). Evaluating crash avoidance countermeasures using data from FMCSA/NHTSA’s large truck crash causation study. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Retrieved from http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pdf/esv/esv21/09-0460.pdf

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2016, May). Traffic safety facts: 2014 data. NHTSA. Retrieved from https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812279

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