Media outlets in South Carolina and around the country often run stories about tractor-trailer accidents when truck driver drowsiness, intoxication or distraction have been cited by law enforcement as factors, but data from the U.S. Department of Labor suggests that these reports may sometimes be misleading. According to the agency, automobile drivers are responsible for causing about 70 percent of the accidents involving large commercial vehicles, and almost 60 percent of those killed in truck crashes are passengers in cars or SUVs that strike tractor-trailers either in the rear or head-on.

Passenger vehicle drivers are generally cautious when in close proximity to tractor-trailers, but impatience and frustration can mount when slow-moving trucks are holding up traffic. This can prompt motorists to follow too closely, occupy blind spots or make unwise passing maneuvers, and excessive speed and driver distraction are also persistent problems. More than eight out of 10 of the road users killed in truck accidents in 2015 lost their lives on interstates, freeways or major roads according to the DOT, and 29 percent of them lost their lives when the passenger vehicle they were traveling in crossed the center line.

However, government accident figures indicate that truck driver fatigue is also a serious issue. Truck crashes are less common early in the workweek when truck drivers are refreshed and well rested, but they gradually increase in number as the week wears on and grueling schedules begin to take their toll.

Truck drivers or their employers sometimes claim that the plaintiffs in truck accident lawsuits acted negligently, and these arguments may be difficult to counter when police reports are inconclusive. In these situations, experienced personal injury attorneys could conduct investigations of their own to establish liability. These efforts may include studying cellphone records, hours of service logs or the information stored on truck data recorders for evidence of distraction, fatigue or reckless driving.