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Study examines fault distribution in car-truck accidents

Florida residents are aware of the differences between a commercial truck and a passenger vehicle. Trucks such as tractor-trailers and 18-wheelers are larger, heavier and more difficult to drive than cars.

A paper released by the American Trucking Association in 2013 reviewed the research regarding different factors that affect the risks related to truck collisions. Many types of failures while operating a vehicle may result in a car-truck crash. The research revealed that driving error accounted for approximately 90 percent of car-truck accidents.

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, or UMTRI, conducted a study regarding fatal car-truck accidents. They discovered that car drivers were at least partially at fault for 81 percent of fatal accidents while truck operators were partially at fault in 26 percent of those collisions. Some critics have argued that the attribution of driving error in those collisions might be biased in favor of the driver who survived the crash and lived to tell their side of the story to police. In most cases the truck driver is the survivor. However, the authors of the paper pointed out that the UMTRI examined fatal truck-car crashes in which both drivers survived. They found that in these cases drivers of passenger vehicles received citations in 73 percent of the collisions while truck drivers accounted for 34 percent of driving violations.

Examining the distribution of fault in a car-truck collision is significant in determining who among the drivers involved is negligent or reckless in the accident. The party whose negligence contributes to the crash, injuries and fatalities may be liable for the damages. If both are proven at fault, comparative negligence law may apply in the case.

Source:, "Relative Contribution/Fault in Car-Truck Crashes," February 2013

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