Driving down the freeway near an 18-wheeler can make anyone feel a little nervous and the uneasy feeling is not unfounded. There are more than a quarter of a million crashes involving semi trucks and passenger vehicles annually and it is the occupants of the smaller vehicles that typically bear the brunt of the collision — sometimes suffering catastrophic injuries.
Passenger cars outnumber semi trucks on the road but more than one out of every ten traffic fatalities involves a commercial truck. Given the size difference between commercial trucks like semi tractor-trailers and passenger cars and trucks, it is no surprise that the smaller vehicles are at a disadvantage in a crash.
Here are some of the factors that make 18-wheelers a danger on the roads.
Factors that make 18-wheelers dangerous
It is hard to overlook the size disparity between semi trucks and passenger vehicles. It is this size differential that plays a major role in the typical semi accident.
The maximum-weight 18 wheeler weighs more than four times the average passenger car and can easily be three times as long with a single trailer or much longer with a double trailer. This affects:
- Stopping distance: A semi truck requires more time and distance to accelerate or stop. It can take an 18-wheeler up to 600 feet to stop completely.
- Length: The longer length of 18 wheelers compared to small cars presents issues when cars attempt to pass because no matter how many mirrors the truck has, its driver will have blind spots. Blind spots lead to many of the accidents involving large trucks.
- Center of gravity: The high center of gravity on the tractor-trailers makes them less stable and more difficult to maneuver.
These characteristics are related to some of the more prevalent causes of semi truck accidents. They can lead to:
- Jackknife accidents: The swivel point connecting the tractor to the trailer can lead to a jackknife due to the braking pattern, load distribution, or some other factor where the driver loses control.
- Rollovers: Rollovers can have several causes, including when the front wheels turn more quickly than the rear containing the cargo. They are more common when the load is full and the truck is speeding.
Many 18-wheeler crashes can be prevented through careful actions. By avoiding improper loading of cargo, staying up-to-date on truck maintenance, diligently taking care of mechanical issues, and preventing driver fatigue, the effects of the truck size can minimized.
Legal advocacy in Baton Rouge and Lafayette
Lawsuits involving commercial truck accidents can be very specialized, calling into question scientific theories over how the accident occurred; liability of individuals and businesses who owned, leased, or loaded the truck; and even the scope and extend of injuries suffered. It is crucial to have a lawyer like Bart Bernard, who has already helped many victims of serious accidents secure the compensation they deserve.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a crash with a semi truck, be sure to speak with an 18 wheeler accident lawyer in Louisiana. Bart Bernard has offices in Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana; call today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
Additional 18-wheeler accident resources:
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Large Truck and Bus Crush Facts, https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/data-and-statistics/large-truck-and-bus-crash-facts
- Nationwide, How to Share the Road with Semi Trucks, https://blog.nationwide.com/driving-near-trucks-highway/