In 2017, more than 102,000 accidents occurred involving big trucks. More than 4,500 of these resulted in death, while others ended in serious injury for the passengers in other vehicles involved in the accident.
Accidents with semi-trucks often lead to severe injuries for victims of those accidents: traumatic brain injury, spinal cord damage, amputations, severe burns, and death often occur. Although truck drivers carry substantial insurance, insurance companies often attempt to minimize the settlement amount. An experienced truck accident attorney will negotiate with insurance companies and be able to investigate the cause of an accident and if all safety precautions and regulations were followed.
Several factors can contribute heavily to the risk of truck accidents. These include:
Driver fatigue. Even inside the recommended number of hours on the road, drivers may fatigue quickly, leading to slowed reflexes and an increased likelihood of falling asleep behind the wheel.
Improper maintenance. Big trucks spend a lot of time on the road. Without proper maintenance, the risk of equipment failure increases significantly. Because of their larger size, big trucks are hard to control on the road.
Distracted driving. Distractions can include checking a cell phone as well as eating and drinking on the road to make up for lost time or any other distractions in the cab of the truck.
Improper loading. Shifting loads, including liquid-filled loads that aren’t placed in the tank properly, can cause the trailer or tank to swing out of control, making it difficult for the driver to keep the truck in its assigned lane.
Driver error. Like other drivers, truck drivers can commit errors due to distraction, speeding, or ignoring the rules of the road.
Inexperience or improper training on the part of the driver. A driver who does not receive proper training may struggle to handle a large vehicle properly. Drivers may need specific training in how to handle specific types of loads or specific sizes of vehicles.
Driving under the influence. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, including some over the counter medications, can substantially increase the risk of some types of accidents.
Vehicular weight and stopping distance. A heavily-loaded vehicle may need a great deal more time to stop than a smaller, lighter truck. Drivers who fail to properly calculate that stopping distance can have significantly increased accident risk.
Common Types of Semi-Truck Accidents
Truck accidents can result due to driver negligence or, in many cases, situations outside the driver’s control. Truck accidents may include:
- Rear-end collisions
- T-bone or side impact collisions, when the truck strikes a vehicle in the side
- Head-on collisions, which can prove particularly catastrophic for smaller passenger vehicles
- Tire blowouts
- Rollover accidents, when the truck rolls over, causing a collision with a smaller vehicle
- No-zone accidents, when vehicles drift into the truck’s “no zones,” including trucks’ blind spots or the broader spaces trucks need to turn or stop
- Jackknife accidents, when the trailer swings free of a semi-truck and pulls the cab out of the driver’s control