Truck Accident Causes

Car accidents range from minor to major, with many levels of severity in between. Truck accidents, however, often result in catastrophic injuries for the victims due to the massive size and weight of these vehicles.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the agency that oversees regulation of the trucking industry. The agency collects data from truck crashes all over the country in order to monitor the causes of these accidents and determine what can be done to reduce these incidents and save lives.



The FMCSA assigns codes to the causes of each accident using the following variables:

Associated Factors

These are the environmental, personal, and vehicle conditions which were present at the time of the crash. These factors may or may not have contributed to the crash. The top five factors which have been identified by the FMCSA are:

  • Brake issues
  • Heavy traffic and other traffic flow interruptions
  • Prescription drug use
  • Driving too fast for the road conditions
  • Not being familiar with the area/roads traveling on

Critical Reason

A critical reason is the immediate cause of the crash, including driver error, environmental conditions, and vehicle failures. The FMCSA breaks down driver error reasons into four different categories:

  • Decision: Driving too fast for the condition of the road, misjudging the speed of other vehicles, following other vehicles too closely are causes of crashes that occur because of decisions the driver made.
  • Non-Performance: Driver non-performance reasons that often are cited as truck accident cause include fatigued driving, heart attack, seizure, or other medical impairment.
  • Performance: If the driver did something leading up to the crash that played a factor – such as taking a turn too widely, overcompensated in a turn, or otherwise lost control – it would be coded under this category.
  • Recognition: Engaging in distracted driving behaviors or failing to recognize a situation are coded under the recognition category.

Critical Event

A critical event cause is one which resulted in a situation making the crash unavoidable. The FMCSA has developed three critical event codes in truck accidents:

  • Crashing into the back of another vehicle in the same lane of traffic
  • Lane drifting or running out of the lane
  • Loss of control of the truck due to poor road conditions, shifted freight, mechanical failure, or traveling too fast for area or road conditions

Contact a Virginia Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, contact a Virginia truck accident attorney to discuss what legal recourse you may have against the responsible party or parties. The legal team from Shapiro & Appleton has successfully advocated for many truck accident victims and their families and we understand how complicated these cases can be. Our attorneys are available to meet and discuss the details of your case and how we may be able to help.

For more information about truck accidents in Virginia, please download our free guide.