Most drivers instinctively know that 18-wheelers and other trucks pose unique roadway hazards. An automobile accident involving a large truck can be far more serious than one involving a passenger vehicle. This in turn increases the likelihood of severe injuries and fatalities. Understanding the nature of truck accidents will hopefully encourage drivers to stay alert and stay safe during their commutes.
There are several contributing factors that make accidents involving large trucks especially dangerous. Some of them are:
1. Size and weight. The legal weight limit of an 18-wheeler in the United States is 80,000 pounds. This is before any oversize or overweight permits. By comparison, the average automobile weighs around 5,000 pounds. A large truck, therefore, delivers a more forceful impact in the event of an accident. Conversely, smaller vehicles cannot absorb the collision nearly as well. This makes many truck-automobile accidents devastating.
2. Slow braking. The size and weight of large trucks cause braking and deceleration to take more time. Even if a driver begins braking well before impact, the amount of force will still be relatively high.
3. Strength of the truck’s components and construction. Trucks are manufactured using strong metal components. The material used is overall stronger than that used to build passenger cars. On impact, a smaller vehicle is therefore likely to absorb more energy. This causes a significantly higher likelihood of injury for the passengers.
4. Hazardous and flammable materials. Many trucks are used to transport gasoline, chemicals, and toxic matter. In some accidents, vehicles can catch fire or victims may breathe in hazardous substances. This adds to the danger of large truck collisions and can cause long-lasting health consequences.
A truck accident can take many forms, highlighting the danger of these vehicles and the potential damage they can do. Common examples of truck accidents are as follows:
1. Head-on or rear-end collisions. Driver negligence, poor road conditions, or mechanical failures may cause these. A frontal collision between a passenger vehicle and truck will almost certainly be fatal for the smaller car’s driver. This is due to the truck’s size, the vehicles’ combined speeds, and other factors.
Rear-end collisions can occur for many of the same reasons as head-on accidents. Larger trucks especially have more difficulty braking. If a vehicle swerves into a truck’s lane or hits the brakes in front of one, an accident may result.
2. Rollovers. There are numerous causes of these accidents. Poor driving behaviors, such as sharp turns or over-correcting, may be responsible. Driving down steep declines and excessive speeds can also cause a rollover. Sometimes the load being hauled is top-heavy or not secured properly. A seemingly harmless weight shift of the load can easily turn into a major disaster.
3. Tire blowouts. Poor tire maintenance can cause any of the tires on a large truck to blow. If this occurs, the driver may lose control of the truck or swerve into another lane. On the other hand, the driver may erroneously over-correct and cause a secondary accident.
4. Left-turn accidents. A truck turning left may come into the path of an oncoming vehicle. Although sometimes this is the result of the smaller automobile speeding, operator error may be at fault. This is especially true for inexperienced or rushed truck drivers.
5. Improper lane changes. The size and length of large trucks require proper judgment when changing lanes. Not all operators are careful, and may find themselves merging into a lane already occupied by a vehicle. The resulting collision can force an automobile off the road, causing serious injury.
The consequences of a large truck accident can be catastrophic, even fatal. You may be suffering from devastating injuries that will require time and money to heal. Meanwhile, your bills will pile up as you miss work. Don’t let accident costs spiral out of control. The truck accident attorneys at Hammers Law Firm will work to get the compensation you deserve so you can get your life back.