Truck accidents differ from car accidents on a number of levels. One example are that trucks are harder to maneuver, as well as weighing much more than cars. These factors can lead to serious injury, multi-vehicle accidents, and significantly higher rates of fatalities. It is important for all drivers to understand the different kinds and different causes of truck accidents and how they can be identified.
Jackknifing: When trucks are empty, they can be prone to losing control due to bad weather, wind, or faulty equipment. When a truck loses control, it is not uncommon for the cab of the truck to fold in toward the trailer of the truck, much like the knife it is named after. Jackknifing causes the cab of the truck to face traffic in the wrong direction and can often take up multiple lanes of traffic. More technically, jackknifing occurs when the truck's drive axel locks up, causing the truck driver to lose directional control of this vehicle. Some, but not all, jackknifing cases are due to truck driver negligence.
Truck blind spot accidents: Because of the size and length of 18-wheelers, they have large blind spots both behind them and on the their sides. If either the truck driver or the drivers around them are not vigilant, blind spot errors such as changing lanes, making turns, and breaking too quickly can lead to serious injuries and deaths. Drivers of non-commercial vehicles can stay safe by giving truck more room and by knowing when their car or small truck is in a semi's blind spot. Truck drivers can prevent accidents by checking their mirrors often and by using their turn signals correctly.
Truck rollovers: Due to their weight distribution and build, big rigs roll very easily. Unlike with smaller vehicles, trucks do not have to be making sudden movements or traveling at dangerous speeds in order to flip - tractor trailers have been known to tip over going as slow as five miles per hour. Trucks are particularly prone to flipping over when going around curves and corners or when the road changes consistency. Watch for rollovers when trucks are re-entering a highway or interstate.
Truck break malfunctions and downhill break failure: Semi-trucks carry heavy loads and because of this, need their breaks checked and changed much more often than lighter cars and motorcycles. Break malfunctions can occur whenever the breaks are overused or overheated - a full stop from 60 MPH causes truck breaks to reach a staggering 600 degrees. Anything over that temperature could lead to faulty breaks and serious accidents. Truck break failure most often occurs on long and steep inclines on mountain interstates and highways. Break failures and malfunctions increase when the trailers are carrying too much weight or when the truck's load is off balance or improperly packed.