According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, large trucks were involved in 4,050 fatal crashes in 2015. Although semi-trucks are a necessary part of American manufacturing and industry, they are also quite dangerous. Because of the nature of semi-trucks and the work their drivers do, these vehicles present several unique risks on the road. You can click here to find out more about how these truck collision cases are litigated.
The drivers are tired. Semi-truck drivers spend hours on the road, often driving non-stop between destinations. In fact, many drivers feel pressure from their employers to drive longer without stopping to rest. This leads to fatigue, which can be even more dangerous than drunk driving. Drivers who fall asleep at the wheel can cause serious crashes without even realizing it. Tired drivers, too, are at a higher risk of causing a crash because they are less attentive and have slower reaction times. Combining those risks with a heavy trailer can have devastating results.
They cannot brake or turn quickly. According to the laws of physics, a heavier object in motion takes more energy to change course or stop. This means that semi-trucks are not as maneuverable as smaller vehicles. If there is not enough space between the truck and the vehicle in front of it, there is a great risk of a rear collision if the car brakes suddenly. Semi-trucks are also unable to quickly swerve out of the way to avoid obstacles in the road, which can also cause a collision.
Trucks have large blind spots. Though semi-trucks often stay in the right lane, there are times when they need to change lanes. Unfortunately, smaller vehicles can easily hide in a truck’s blind spot without the driver realizing it. This runs the risk of the semi-truck running the car off the road or causing the car to slide underneath the trailer. A tired driver may even neglect to check their blind spots and mirrors before merging or changing lanes.
They have high clearance. Semi-trucks sit higher up than most vehicles, and the space between the trailer and the road can be a death trap. Cars that back into a semi’s trailer can become trapped underneath it. This is a dangerous situation that often shears off the roof of the car and causes death and serious injury. In fact, this type of crash occurs in half of all fatal car-semi accidents. Many semis have under-ride bars which are meant to prevent these types of crashes from happening, but they are not yet mandated by law.
People who are involved in collisions with semi-trucks are often entitled to damages. However, even settlements in cases aren’t often enough to make up for the damage they do to lives. Several laws could improve safety on the road for all drivers, such as limiting the amount of hours a driver can legally travel or mandating under-ride bars. Hopefully, these dangerous crashes will decrease with better practices on the road.