February 6, 2023
Trucking Accident

While truck rollovers are relatively rare, they are devastating accidents with potentially fatal consequences for truck drivers and other road users. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), rollover accidents were the first harmful event in 3.6% of all fatal truck crashes in 2020.

Explore the causes of truck rollover crashes and how to stay safe when driving near semi-trucks and large commercial vehicles. If you are involved in a truck accident, contact The Vance Law Firm Injury Lawyers to help you file a claim for fair compensation.

What Is a Rollover?

A rollover is when a truck rolls over onto its side or roof during a collision. The FMCSA refers to a rollover as an overturn and describes these accidents as a truck tipping on its side or roof.

According to the latest FMCSA statistics, there were 160 fatal crashes involving large truck rollovers in 2020. In these accidents, the rollover was the first harmful event, indicating it was the primary cause of injury or death in the accident.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), over 50% of all large truck occupant deaths occurred in rollover crashes in 2020. This percentage is higher than other vehicle categories, such as pickup trucks (41%), SUVs (40%), and standard passenger cars (22%). These statistics demonstrate that truck drivers are at a heightened risk of death in rollover crashes.

Common Causes of Truck Rollovers

A study commissioned by the FMCSA analyzed over 239 rollover crashes in-depth to determine the most common causation factors behind truck rollover crashes. The study’s findings revealed the top 3 causes were:

  • Excessive speed for the road or vehicle conditions
  • Truck driver inattention
  • Truck driver error/failure to control the vehicle

Excessive Speed

The FMCSA study indicates that excessive speed is the primary cause of rollover accidents in 108 out of the 239 analyzed crashes (45.2%).

The study broke down speed-related rollovers into subcategories and discovered that 67 cases involved a truck driver misjudging the correct speed needed to take a curve, and 10 others involved excessive speed while negotiating an intersection. By driving too quickly while turning, the driver increases the risk of causing their vehicle to tip over, causing a rollover crash.

Despite the heightened risk of rollover due to speeding around curves, rollovers can also occur on straight roads due to the driver failing to adjust their speed in response to improperly balanced loads, inclement weather conditions like ice or snow, known brakes or tire malfunction, or simply failing to adapt their speed for the road or traffic conditions.

In 19 incidents, truck drivers simply acted negligently or recklessly and either disregarded speed limits to meet a delivery deadline, failed to notice speed limit signs and adjust their vehicle speed accordingly, or lost their temper and began driving aggressively.

Truck Driver Inattention

Truck driver inattention is the second-most common cause of rollover crashes, observed in 54 out of the 239 analyzed incidents (22.6%).

While distracted driving or driver fatigue are significant contributors to attention-related truck rollovers, the most common issue is general inattention. 25 of the 54 attention-related incidents involved drivers failing to observe the road and negotiate incoming curves or obstacles on time, resulting in sudden swerving or changes in direction and causing their trucks to tip over.

Failure to Control the Vehicle

Truck drivers failing to maintain control of their vehicles comprise the third most common cause of truck rollovers, with 46 out of 239 analyzed incidents (19.2%).

The study noted that poor steering control and over-correcting were involved in 39 cases, sometimes in situations as simple as changing lanes or swerving to avoid an obstacle. Rollovers due to over-steering beyond the vehicle’s stable limit can also cause jackknife accidents.

Defensive Driving Tips Around Trucks

When driving on the highway and sharing the road with large trucks, practicing the following defensive driving tips and techniques is the best way to avoid getting into an accident:

  • Understand how a truck’s blind spots work and spend as little time as possible inside a blind spot, especially when passing.
  • Be careful not to cut off or suddenly swerve in front of a truck. Large trucks are significantly heavier than passenger vehicles, meaning they can’t brake as quickly or efficiently.
  • Avoid tailgating a truck and leave enough space between it and your vehicle to remain out of its rear blind spot, usually a few car lengths.
  • When driving near trucks at intersections, leave trucks enough space to negotiate turns safely.

Get Maximum Compensation with the Help of The Vance Law Firm Injury Lawyers

If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, finding experienced legal counsel is critical to receive fair compensation. Our team of highly skilled Alabama truck accident lawyers at The Vance Law Firm Injury Lawyers can help you get the financial compensation you deserve.

We will examine the circumstances of the truck rollover accident to determine whether you should file a claim with the driver or the trucking company. We will also gather evidence and fight to obtain maximum damages on your behalf.

Contact our law office today to schedule a free case review, or reach out through our automated online chat feature.

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