What Are the Leading Causes of Serious Truck Accidents?

2,981 truck accidents occurred in Virginia in 2022, accounting for 2.4% of all traffic collisions. Of these accidents, 844 caused some degree of injury while 60 resulted in the loss of at least one life. Another 2,077 truck accidents resulted in heavy property damage. Collisions involving commercial trucks often have devastating consequences, often leading to severe injuries or fatalities. The substantial size and weight of these vehicles make incidents more likely to cause significant harm compared to other types of accidents. Given the crucial role of the transportation sector in the economy, truck accidents frequently result in substantial financial repercussions for companies and consumers alike. Understanding the primary causes of truck accidents, such as fatigued driving and driver inexperience, the resulting injuries, and fatalities. By identifying the common factors contributing to these crashes and implementing appropriate safety measures, we can decrease the occurrence of serious truck accidents and enhance road safety for everyone. If you were injured or lost a loved one in a truck accident, the experienced Virginia Beach truck accident attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp can help. Call us today to schedule your free consultation. 

Fatigued Driving

A leading cause of truck accidents is driver fatigue. Many commercial truck drivers surpass the legally allowed driving hours, increasing the risk of accidents due to exhaustion. According to federal regulations, property-carrying commercial truck drivers can drive up to 11 hours following a 10-hour rest period, while passenger-carrying drivers are allowed to drive a maximum of 10 hours after an eight-hour break.

Truck accident investigations frequently reveal that both drivers and their employers disregard these regulations. Uncovering such violations during the discovery phase of a case is often crucial for achieving a successful outcome.

Improper Cargo Loading

Incorrectly loaded cargo poses several risks, such as shifting loads, uneven weight distribution, and overloaded trailers. These issues can result in accidents and potentially cause the cargo to spill onto the road, posing further dangers to other motorists.

Assessing the proper loading of cargo is crucial in identifying the cause of an accident. If a different company was responsible for loading the truck and did so improperly, they might be liable and should be considered as an additional defendant in the case.


Speeding is a significant factor in many commercial truck accidents. The Institute for Safer Trucking’s 2022 Safer Trucking Report highlighted a staggering 164% increase in fatalities from 2011 to 2020 in truck crashes on roads with speed limits of 75 mph or higher. High speeds make it challenging for truck drivers to respond to sudden events, increasing the likelihood of accidents. Additionally, the heavy weight of the truck and its cargo demands longer stopping distances, which are difficult to achieve at elevated speeds.

Aggressive Driving

Aggressive driving behaviors encompass actions such as speeding, tailgating, weaving between lanes, and neglecting to signal when changing lanes. These reckless maneuvers can generate dangerous situations on the road, significantly raising the likelihood of semi-truck accidents.

Mechanical Failures

Mechanical failures are another leading cause of Virginia Beach trucking accidents. One of the three major types of critical events linked with truck fatalities, as stated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, is the loss of control of the vehicle caused by traveling at a speed unsuitable for the road conditions, vehicle systems malfunction, cargo shifting, or poor road conditions.

Inexperienced Drivers

Inexperience significantly heightens the risk of accidents, particularly with commercial trucks. Recently, the trucking industry has seen a departure of seasoned drivers, leading to their replacement with less experienced individuals new to handling large trucks. These novice drivers can pose considerable dangers on the road.

The Institute for Safer Trucking reports that drivers aged 18-20 are three times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes due to distracted driving. These inexperienced drivers often lack the critical skills and training needed to manage unforeseen events while driving.

Consult With a Virginia Beach Truck Accident Attorney

Just like any other motor vehicle accident, truck accidents can stem from a variety of factors and negatively impact the rest of a victim’s life. Since 1985, the experienced personal injury lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp have been successfully handling Virginia Beach trucking accident cases. Notably, in one recent case, we secured a $2.4 million wrongful death settlement for the family of a man who was killed when a tractor-trailer driver made an unsafe lane change.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident, you can arrange a free consultation with one of our skilled Virginia Beach truck accident attorneys. Call us at (833) 997-1774 or use our simple online contact form. We have offices in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Hampton.