Many large vehicles, such as semi-trucks, drive on American roads every day. Due to their size and weight, these vehicles have a greater chance of causing damage to property and injury to people when involved in accidents. As such, the people who direct, maintain, and drive these vehicles have an increased responsibility to keep other drivers safe because of how dangerous trucks are; however, they sometimes breach that duty of care. When that happens, innocent people can sustain life-altering injuries or worse. What are the chances of such an accident occurring, and why?
The average driver may wonder how often accidents involving large commercial trucks happen, and reasonably so. In 2019, 510,000 accidents involving large trucks were reported. One percent, or 4,479 of them, resulted in fatalities. Twenty-nine percent of the accidents, or 114,000 of them, resulted in injuries to the people involved.
Truck crashes don’t only involve other vehicles. Twenty-one percent of fatal crashes involving large trucks in 2019 also involved a pedestrian, someone on a bicycle, or someone on a nonmotorized vehicle. Single-vehicle crashes also made-up Twenty-two percent of crashes that only resulted in property damage.
Most large truck accidents that resulted in fatalities happened in rural areas: Fifty-seven percent, to be exact. A quarter of them happened on Interstate highways. More than Eighty percent of all large truck accidents happen between Monday and Friday when these trucks are moving product during the work week.
Why Do Crashes Involving Commercial Trucks Occur?
There are many reasons that a large commercial truck may be involved in an accident. Some of the most common include:
- Human error: Eighty-eight percent of accidents involving large trucks happen due to driver error. Many drivers work long hours, and they may make a mistake due to fatigue. Drivers may also be speeding or ignoring road signs at the time of the accident. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the cause of Seventy-four percent of fatal large-truck accidents was due to an object coming into the truck’s path. A speeding or reckless driver may not have time to slow down, or may miss seeing something altogether, thus resulting in a collision that could have otherwise been avoided.
- Driving while intoxicated: Unfortunately, some drivers resort to performance-enhancing drugs to complete their routes more efficiently or use recreational drugs while driving. In 2019, 92 accidents happened because the driver of a large truck was intoxicated.
- Faulty equipment: Some truck accidents occur because a part of the truck was defective or failed during operation. This can often be traced back to a lack of required maintenance on the part of the company that owns the truck. If the parts were faulty due to the way they were made, the company that made them can also be held liable.
Interestingly, weather did not play a large role in large truck crashes in recent years. In 2019, Seventy-three percent of large truck crashes that resulted in injury happened when the weather was perfectly clear. The same goes for Sixty-five percent of crashes resulting in fatalities. Rain is the most dangerous weather for large trucks according to statistics, as upwards of nine percent of large truck crashes happened when it was raining.
How Can I Prevent a Large Truck Accident?
Drivers of passenger vehicles play a large role in preventing accidents involving large commercial vehicles. In 2019, seventeen percent of large truck accidents occurred due to a passenger vehicle speeding, while fifteen percent occurred because the driver of a passenger vehicle was impaired (intoxicated, fatigued, etc.). It is important for drivers to consider and look out for large vehicles when on the road. Here are some tips for preventing accidents with large commercial vehicles:
- Drivers should keep more room between their vehicle and large trucks while driving than they would between their vehicle and another passenger vehicle. Large trucks can obstruct the view from a passenger vehicle; more space gives drivers more time to react if necessary.
- Leave a significant amount of space in front of a truck when passing it. Trucks cannot stop as quickly as passenger vehicles due to their weight, which means they need more space (and time) to come to a stop. Cutting in front of a large truck is dangerous.
- Drivers should only pull over on the highway in an emergency and should only do so in a safe and wide area. Large trucks could hit a vehicle that is pulled over on the side of the highway.
- Due to their size, trucks require more room to turn than passenger vehicles, and truck drivers have less visibility than the average passenger vehicle driver. Therefore, drivers should allow as much room as possible when a truck is turning in front of them, and even stop in some cases.
- Drivers should be sure to always use their turn signals, but especially when driving around large trucks. Truck drivers rely on signals to make quick decisions, and if a driver switches lanes or turns in front of a truck without using their signals, it can cause an accident. In 2019, 541 accidents involving large trucks were caused by improper lane changes made by a passenger vehicle.
Contact an Attorney Today
If you have been in a car accident caused by or involving a large commercial truck, contact Shaffer Madia Law today. With more than 60 years of combined legal experience, we work tirelessly on behalf of our clients. Sam Madia’s experience as a former attorney for the trucking industry has taught him the strategies that insurance companies and large trucking companies use, as well as how to beat them. Reach out for a free consultation today at (304) 244-4433 or via our online contact form.