Truck-on-vehicle accidents—while less common than other collisions—are far more dangerous for everyone involved. In this article, we review why this is, what the most common causes of truck accidents are, and why you need to call an experienced personal injury attorney if you or a loved one is injured by a semi-truck driver.
Trucks pose a major danger to other vehicles on the road
Large semis and 18-wheelers are ubiquitous on our freeways and roads. In fact, there are more than 268 million of them moving throughout the United States. They serve an essential, irreplaceable function. But, their large size, relatively slow brakes, and pronounced blind spots make them a potential threat to all other vehicles on the road. This is before considering other factors, such as driver fatigue and distraction.
Every year in the United States, there are around 475,000 crashes involving a commercial truck. Of these, 104,000 caused significant injuries, while about 3,864 led to a fatality. Due to the size and weight differential, smaller vehicles—including all passenger vehicles, motorcycles, and bicycles—are severely outclassed. In the event of a collision, a semi can send another vehicle careening off the road or into other lanes. Motorcyclists and bicyclists, who already face elevated risks on the road, are even more susceptible to serious injuries or death in the event of a collision with a commercial truck.
Far from all truck-on-vehicle accidents are the fault of the truck driver. There are plenty of things other drivers can do to make the roads safer for everyone. However, by focusing on the accidents caused by trucks and what causes them to happen, truck drivers and trucking companies can greatly reduce the dangers to truckers and other vehicles.
The most common causes of truck accidents
Just like any other vehicle accident, truck accidents can occur for a variety of reasons, at a variety of speeds, and in a variety of places. That being said, many truck accidents happen on freeways, since cross-country traveling trucks spend more time proportionally on or near interstates, with only brief detours onto surface streets when they arrive at their destination. We see collisions caused by distracted, impaired, speeding and exhausted truckers. We also see collisions caused by vision impairments related to trucks themselves.
The long, monotonous hours of travel on freeways across the country can take its toll on drivers. For many, fatigue is a constant threat. Even if drivers are adhering to service hour regulations, the boredom of driving can cause problems. Combine that boredom with a poor diet, poor sleeping conditions, and high caffeine intake and “drowsy driving” becomes reality. Many experts believe that driving drowsy has a similar effect on reaction times, decision-making, and situational alertness as driving under the influence of alcohol. A drowsy truck driver may start to veer into other lanes unexpectedly, or not react quickly enough to brake for traffic ahead.
To fight fatigue, many drivers find ways to pass the hours spent on the road. The truckers of yesterday used CB radios and music to stay awake and alert. However, today’s truckers have cell phones, computers, GPS systems, and many other distractions now available to them, which can lead to distracted driving. Just as is the case for all drivers, distracted driving—led by cellphone use—can kill. By taking their eyes off the road for just a few seconds, truckers lose the reaction time needed to stop for traffic, avoid a disabled vehicle, or avoid wildlife.
One common denominator in many truck accidents are the many blindspots on such a large vehicle. These blindspots exist all over, despite oversized mirrors, and can prevent the trucker from seeing other, smaller vehicles in adjacent lanes.
The Basics On Avoiding Truck Accidents
Give yourself the best chance to avoid an accident with a semi-truck:
- Give a semi as much room as you can when following.
- Don’t cut in too close when moving in front of a semi after passing it, they need more room and more distance to safely stop.
- avoid staying directly beside an 18-wheeler. HAng back until you can pass it efficientl
- Always pass on a truck’s left.
- Stay out of a semi-trucks’ blind spots,
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, call a personal injury attorney
It is far from hyperbole to say that a truck accident can be a life-changing event. Many truck-vehicle collisions result in serious injuries and property damage. And—in an unfortunate number of cases—the death of the accident’s victims. When a truck collides with another vehicle the force involved is enormous. The collision can send the struck car into other lanes, off the road, or into barricades. The highway speeds of both vehicles contributes to excessive force. This means means truck-vehicle accidents are more likely to result in rollovers and pinned vehicles.
If you or a loved one is injured in a truck accident, you need to speak to a personal injury attorney right away. The circumstances of every case are different. Not all accidents are as cut-and-dry as they appear. For example, unbeknownst to accident victims in the other vehicle, cargo-loading errors or unlawful loading is a hidden contributor to accidents. Misloading causes the vehicle to be off-balance, more prone to jackknife, and less controllable. A personal injury attorney specializing in truck accidents can help determine if you have a pathway forward on seeking compensation for your injuries and losses.
For a comprehensive overview of the leading causes of truck accidents, see this new infographic :