Motor carriers are suppose to train their drivers,  providing the appropriate skills and knowledge which would allow them to avoid preventable crashes— which they call “preventable accidents.”*

In the trucking industry, “preventable accidents” are crashes in which a truck driver or motor carrier failed to act in a reasonably expected manner to prevent it.

“Preventable Accidents” in Defensive Driving Code

Many motor carriers use the National Safety Council criteria. In order to avoid “preventable accidents”, truck drivers must adhere to the Defensive Driving Code.

This question must be asked in evaluating all trucking accidents  crashes*:

“Did the truck driver drive in such a way that he committed no errors himself,

and controlled his vehicle as to make due allowance for conditions of road, weather and traffic,

and to assure that mistakes of other drivers did not involve him in an accident?”

If a driver did not do everything reasonable to avoid it, then it is a “preventable accident.”

If a driver did everything reasonable he/she could do to prevent it, then it is a “non-preventable accident.”


The heart of any motor carrier safety program is the careful determination of those accidents crashes are preventable, and a program that teaches the necessary skills to avoid them.

The concept of “preventable accidents” is so important is because of the incredible damage and injuries that can be caused by large trucks and trailers. That is why commercial motor vehicle drivers are held to a high safety standard.


* This post has been updated. Please note that almost all serious motor vehicle crashes are predictable and preventable: they are not “accidents.” See: Why we say “crash” instead of “accident”