Truck Crashes Are a Constant Deadly Risk in Portsmouth, VA | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Famartin via Wikimedia / 3844328 --,_Virginia.jpgHome to major ports, boasting busy shipyards and heavily intersected by state and federal highways, Portsmouth, Virginia (VA) sees more than its fair share of tractor-trailer and single-unit truck traffic. Each day, semis and other heavy commercial trucks account for as much as 5 percent of the vehicles on a given Portsmouth highway. That may not sound like a lot of large trucks, but it is when a single stretch of I-264/U.S. 460 carries 69,000 vehicles daily.


More trucks inevitably mean more truck crashes. Across all of Virginia, 2018 saw 49 fatal wrecks involving large commercial vehicles. Another 842 collisions involving semis and multi-axle trucks left people injured badly enough to require medical treatment.

The overwhelming majorities of deceased and hospitalized victims of those recent Virginia truck crashes were drivers and passengers in cars, pickups and SUVs. Pedestrians and bicyclists also suffered worse injuries than truck drivers in accidents.

Simple physics explains this. Even running empty, a tractor-trailer weighs at least 20,000 pounds. With force equaling speed times mass, a semi moving at 45 mph or 55 mph will do a lot of damage when it hits anything. The impact on a human body is often horrific and deadly or disabling.

As important, controlling a large truck is not at all easy. Minor errors that a car’s driver could probably recover from before causing an accident frequently escalate into tragedies for commercial truck drivers. Just slowing down and stopping an 18-wheeler can take three times the distance a car traveling the same speed requires. Becoming distracted, falling asleep at the wheel, overcorrecting, missing signs and signals, and failing to check blind spots set the stage for wrecks from which no one walks away.

Truck drivers and the companies that employ them have high legal duties to operate responsibly. When they do not meet those legal obligations, victims of negligence and recklessness have rights to partner with personal injury and wrongful death attorneys to file insurance claims or civil lawsuits to recover medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other type of economic and noneconomic losses.