Virginia Truck Crashes: Top 12 Causes

In the context of safe trucking, nothing can substitute great care and attention to detail.

As Virginia trucking accident attorneys we are intimately familiar with a variety of causes that contribute to truck accidents.


Failure to Deploy Flares or Triangles and Poor Visibility

Failure to deploy flares or triangles often plays a major role in causing a truck crash in Virginia. All it takes is a little bit of early morning fog, and if you can’t see the slowing truck, or even a truck that is stalled or parked on the side of the highway, the chances of avoiding an accident are low.

We have had several of these cases over the years.  Typically, the damages are catastrophic or fatal.  One of our cases involved the wrongful death of a woman when a flatbed tractor trailer loaded with steel stopped for more than 30 minutes in the travel lane of a busy street but failed to deploy flares or triangles.  A hit and run driver then hit our client’s pickup truck from behind, propelling the pickup into the flatbed, causing our client aorta to develop a fatal leak when her chest slammed against the pickup’s steering wheel.  In another of our cases, a commercial truck ran out of gas after dark on Route 460 east of Petersburg and the driver failed to display any flares or triangles.  The reflectors on the commercial truck were coated with mud.  Unable to discern the dark hulk in the road ahead, our client drove his pickup truck into the back of the commercial truck, causing the death of the front seat passenger (the young son of the driver of the pickup).  In this fashion these commercial truckers violated various provisions of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

Truck driver fatigue

Truck drivers put in extremely long hours.  It should come as no surprise that they get tired and occasionally make mistakes.  Driver fatigue leads to costly mistakes on our Virginia highways: unsafe lane changes, falling asleep at the wheel, distracted driving, and inability to focus on the road.

Unsafe Lane Changes

Ever had a tractor trailer ride your tail while traveling on the interstate?  I know I have.  It never ceases to amaze me how dangerous and aggressive truck drivers can be.  Because truck drivers are incentivized to deliver their goods on time, and even ahead of schedule, they will make risky moves at high speeds on highways and interstates.  As drivers, we see this all the time in our community on Interstates I-85 and I-95.  We hear about the unfortunate truck crashes during our morning commute and we see the devastating, often fatal results, in the news.

Tire Blow Outs

If you have ever driven down a Virginia Interstate like I-85 or I-95, you have undoubtedly seen the consequences of a tire blow out.  You have seen the bits of rubber in the middle of your lane; sometimes it may even look as if a whole tire is sitting in the middle road.  This is obviously dangerous.  It can cause damage to your vehicle, cause you to swerve, cause you to lose control of your vehicle, and in some cases cause you to crash.

While a blown tire can be dangerous to the driving public, a tire blow out can be equally devastating for the truck driver.  A tire blow out can cause the truck driver to lose control of his vehicle, or even result in an immediate truck crash when the truck overturns.

Rotted Spare Tires

You might think that a spare tire would have little relation to a truck crash.  This is not the case.  Tires age over time, and as they age, they become less effective, even when they are not being used.

Tire rot is difficult to see.  Spare tires may appear to be compliant with acceptable safety standards, but if they are several years old, there is a chance they might blow out in as little as just a couple days of use.  This is why it is important for the truck driver to pay attention to details and to take great care in the responsibility he owes to others on the road.

Under Inflated Tires

Low pressure can cause a tire to heat up.  Once hot, the chance of a tire blow out is increased.  This problem is made more serious in the summer, when low pressure and hot weather can result in a serious trucking accident.

Tread Burns

Tread burns are another form of tire failure, and a common cause of Virginia truck crashes. The combination of high speeds, high temperatures, and heavy cargo can cause the tire treads to overheat and burn, thus causing a blowout.

Truck Driver Drug Abuse/DWI

It is not surprising to know that the long hours on the road and the financial stress of long haul trucking has led some truck operators to abuse drugs and or alcohol and drive.  Sadly, the tragic result is often a catastrophic truck crash.

Dangerous Roads or Highways

When truck drivers chose to drive in hazardous conditions they endanger their own lives and the lives of others on our Virginia Interstates and highways.  Many truck operators are prudent and careful drivers, and will pull off the road in dangerous conditions.  However, other drivers do not all take such care.

Poorly maintained roads, narrow lanes, potholes, heavy rain, snow, or ice are all factors that make a highway dangerous.

Unsecured Loads or Improper Loading

Have you ever seen the inside of a truck bed?  Loading cargo is no simple procedure.  Getting the cargo in the truck is only half the battle.   Once the cargo is loaded, the weight is distributed and the cargo must be properly secured.  Weight that is not evenly distributed can contribute to truck crashes.

Logging trucks are a case in point.  They often travel the roads of Virginia.  All of us often see them, sometimes with their loads bouncing as the truck powers ahead.  Imagine what can happen to a car if one of the logs falls onto the roadway.

Poor Maintenance

Poor truck maintenance is an extremely common cause of an accident.  While most drivers operating heavy trucks, semi trucks, 18 wheelers, or tractor trailers take great care to maintain a safe and properly checked vehicle, not all truckers are so attentive.  Poor maintenance remains a major cause of truck accidents on Virginia highways.


Brakes continue to be a major cause of truck crashes. You would have thought that in this day and age, trucking companies would have eliminated such an obvious risk.  However, brake failure, overly worn brake components, and other issues with trucking brakes routinely contribute to major truck accidents.


We are tireless in our efforts to pursue justice for our clients.  At the office, in the courtroom, and during negotiations, we utilize our 30 plus years of legal experience to obtain the best possible outcomes for our clients.

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