What causes a semi-truck accident? The answer can vary widely, whether it’s a particular incident or a larger trend, there are many different voices eager to share their views on the subject. One set of voices that is increasingly being heard is that of accident victims themselves. In the wake of several recent high-profile truck accidents, such as the one that severely injured actor Tracy Morgan and another that killed four college softball players last month, accident victims are fighting back against dangerous trucking practices. However, trucking trade associations, such as the Arlington, Virginia-based American Trucking Association, often have different views as to the causes of a crash.

One mother who lost two teenage daughters in a tractor trailer accident in 2013 has been active in urging increased trucking safety. She created a social media campaign, set up a website and has even sent over 10,000 petitions to influential figures, including the U.S. Transportation Secretary. She noted that she wants to do anything she can to make trucks less dangerous to others on the road. Each year, semi-truck accidents kill nearly 4,000 individuals.

Making the issue of trucking safety more complex is the fact that any number of factors can contribute to a semi-truck accident, whether it is a driver’s fatigue, a company’s insistence on faster run times or distracted driving. According to the ATA, just more than half of truck crashes are caused by other drivers, not truckers themselves. The group uses a 2007 federal government study to bolster their claim. However, even the ATA acknowledges that truck drivers were at fault in a huge chunk – 44 percent – of reviewed accidents in the study.

Families affected by truck accidents often argue that the impact of a truck crash is so severe that even one preventable wreck is too many. According to the executive director of the Truck Safety Coalition, battling the trucking industry for safer laws and regulations is a grueling task. In the midst of shock and grief, going up against a powerful industry or even a single company can be overwhelming.

Source: Bloomberg.com, “Mom takes on truckers after highway wreck kills daughters,” David Voreacos and Jeff Plungis, Sept. 30, 2014