Semi-Truck AccidentsTruck Accidents
In the past several years, the number of semi-truck accidents has increased, with a corresponding rise in semi-truck injuries and fatalities. Semi-trucks, or truck tractors and tractor-trailers, have several characteristics that make accidents far more dangerous than traffic crashes between passenger vehicles.
If you have recently suffered injuries in a semi-truck accident, you should consult an experienced truck accident injury lawyer as soon as possible. Until you have the chance, this short guide provides information about what makes semi-truck accidents especially dangerous, common causes of semi-truck accidents, and how you can safely share the road with semis.
What Makes Tractor-Trailer Accidents So Dangerous?
A semi-trucks mass and size make it more dangerous than other vehicles on the road when accidents occur.
If you recall science lessons from grade school or college, you know that Newton’s Second Law of Physics is that Force = Mass x Acceleration (F=ma). The mass of an object directly impacts the force of a traffic accident. Although some rare exceptions exist, semi-trucks have the greatest mass among all motor vehicles. In fact, a fully loaded semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds.
In contrast, the average passenger vehicle weighs somewhere 3,000 and 4,000 pounds. The large mass of semi-trucks creates an incredible force during a collision that typically leads to more property damages, more severe injuries, and a higher chance of fatality. At high speeds, the force is even greater and more deadly, especially for passenger vehicles.
The size of trucks makes them dangerous in large part because of the size of their blind spots. All vehicles have blind spots, but the size of the spots increases with a vehicle’s size. Truckers cannot use a rearview mirror because the trailer blocks their view. Instead, they must rely on side mirrors to check for vehicles before making a turn or changing lanes. Failing to monitor blind spots and passenger vehicles that linger in blind spots can lead to dangerous truck accidents.
Trends in Trucking Accidents
Common trends associated with trucking accidents we found by analyzing the most recent data include:
- Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of truck accidents do not occur during inclement weather. Close to 87 percent of semi-truck accidents occur during clear or cloudy weather without rain, sleet, or other conditions.
- Almost 77 percent of all tractor-trailer accidents occur during the day.
- Most truck tractor accidents occur in the afternoon. More than 40 percent happen between noon and 6 p.m.
- Approximately 38 percent of all semi accidents occur on interstates, and a little more than 20 percent occur on primary U.S. Highways that run throughout the state.
- Young, inexperienced drivers and older truck drivers operating beyond retirement often get blamed for truck accidents. But truckers between 45 and 54 years old are in more than 27 percent of semi accidents, and those between ages 35 and 54 are involved in 46 percent of the state’s semi-truck accidents.
Common Causes of Semi-truck Accidents
Semi drivers must hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate their big rig. This legally binds them to additional rules and regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the agency responsible for regulating the trucking industry. According to the FMCSA, many truck accidents occur as a result of the following driver behaviors:
The most common driving distraction is cell phone use, but truckers were the first group of drivers prohibited from using cell phones while driving. Truck drivers must use a hands-free device if they use their cell phones; those who do not comply are violating federal law.
Cell phone use is not as big of a problem for truckers as you might think, but many other driving distractions can lead to dangerous semi-truck accidents, including:
- Drinking and eating
- Adjusting a CB, GPS, or other radio
- Reaching for something on the floor
- Watching an event outside the truck
Truckers have demanding schedules that sometimes leave them fatigued. The FMCSA estimates that drivers who go without 18 hours of sleep have the same level of impairment as someone with a 0.08 blood alcohol level, twice the legal limit of alcohol for truck drivers. Truckers who do not get the rest they need put others at risk if they nod off while driving.
Failure to Yield
Some truckers drive aggressively to the extent they feel they have the largest vehicle on the road, so it gives them the right-of-way. They rarely yield to other vehicles and expect other drivers to get out of their way. Drivers in passenger vehicles who do not yield to aggressive truck drivers are at risk for accidents and injuries.
Safely Sharing the Road With Semis
You cannot control the actions of a truck driver, but you can take some steps to help avoid a semi-truck accident caused by a negligent truck driver, including:
- Pass trucks quickly without hovering in a blind spot. This ensures the driver always sees you when making a maneuver.
- Do not follow trucks too closely to avoid accidents from load spillage or anything else that causes a driver to lose control.
- Always use your turn signals when making lane changes and turns. This lets truck drivers know your intentions, so they have time to respond by slowing, stopping, or moving their truck over.
Should a negligent semi-truck driver crash and injure you or a family member, a truck accident lawyer can evaluate your case, help you seek compensation, and do all of that at no cost to you. Don’t get stuck with the bills from another person’s mistakes—contact a truck accident lawyer for more information today.