The trucking industry plays a critical role in driving the growth of our country’s economic engine. The American Trucking Association’s data reveals that in 2018, the trucking industry moved 11.49 billion tons of cargo and generated employment for roughly 7.8 million people, 3.5 million of which were truck drivers.
With the round-the-clock movement of a large number of commercial trucks, accidents on our highways are a harsh reality. These trucks, including big rigs, semis, and tractor trailers, constitute almost 12.8% of the motor vehicles on the United States roadways.
A massive semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. Compare this with a 3,000 to 6,000-pound passenger car or SUV and you can easily understand the likelihood of serious injury or fatality in case of an accident.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) data, our highways and interstates witness more than 100,000 truck accidents each year, with almost 5,000 of the crashes proving fatal.
Some Common Types of Commercial Truck Accidents
Head-on truck accidents are highly dangerous as they often lead to severe or fatal injuries, because of the high speeds. A head-on collision is usually the result of a trucker losing control of his semi and plowing into the path of oncoming motor vehicles, with the vehicles not getting enough time to evade a collision.
There might be several reasons for a driver to lose control of his rig, including driving under the influence or distracted driving. Long hours at the wheel because of an exhausting schedule is also a factor that might contribute to driver fatigue, causing truck drivers to doze off and swerve into the oncoming traffic.
A rear-end accident occurs when a truck crashes into a motor vehicle in front of it. Tailgating, driver distraction, panic stops, high speeds, and less traction in wet weather are some of the common factors in rear-end collisions.
Sometimes, motorists stopping suddenly or making quick turns, give the truck drivers little chance of stopping in time to avert a collision. A massive fully-laden semi needs a fair bit more time to stop than a car. The FMCSA advises for a gap of five to six seconds for a trucker to avert a rear-end crash.
Big tractor-trailers and semi-trucks have two portions, the cab, and the trailer, connected together by a hitch, which is a movable joint that swivels every time the truck makes a turn. Accidents occur when the trailer continues to pivot, swinging towards the cab or out at an angle of ninety degrees, and makes the truck look like a folding jackknife.
Mostly, improper braking by the truck driver leads to jackknife accidents. Sudden braking or using engine brakes in bad weather may cause the rig to skid, leading to a jackknife. A jackknifed truck could roll over or overturn causing other vehicles to run into it, often creating pileups.
Trailer trucks have substantial blind spots, causing a trucker to lose sight of other motor vehicles around the truck. Commercial trucks have large signs warning about the blind spots to other motorists on the road.
Side impact accidents, commonly called angle collisions, broadside collisions, or T-bones, mostly happen at intersections when a truck driver might speed through a stop sign. A side impact accident can lead to catastrophic injuries and fatalities as the truck usually smashes into the side of a motor vehicle with full force, taking out the occupants of a smaller vehicle.
Speeding or overloading makes the corners especially dangerous as the driver could lose control over the truck, causing it to roll over. Smaller motor vehicles mostly bear the brunt in accidents involving big trucks, causing severe injuries to their occupants. A rolled over truck and the cargo falling out on the road can be a hazard for other vehicles on the road. Rollover accidents are the most dangerous for truck drivers too.
One of the deadliest of all truck accidents occurs when a truck stops suddenly, and is rear-ended by a smaller vehicle. The vehicle may slide under the rig, get stuck there, and ride with the truck until it stops. The top of the smaller motor vehicle often gets ripped off.
Shreds and pieces of rubber in tire blowouts can become projectiles and cause extensive damage to smaller vehicles, also resulting in injuries to the occupants. Large trucks are susceptible to tire blowouts which can also cause them to overturn or roll over at high speeds.
Overloaded trucks or those with improperly secured loads, may lead to cargo spillage. Cargo ranging from beer to gasoline to boxes, in the middle of a highway, can prove to be a major hazard. Other motor vehicles might find it hard to avoid such spillage, leading to multi-vehicle pileups and serious injuries.
Contact a Dedicated Truck Accident Attorney in Virginia Today
If you or a loved one is the victim of a commercial vehicle collision, contact a skilled and resourceful truck accident lawyer to review the circumstances of your case. Highly qualified attorneys at Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn can help determine the steps you must take to protect your legal interests and seek maximum damages from the negligent party.
Call 800-752-0042 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.