Several factors contribute to deadly truck accidents, but the most important lies in the sheer size and weight of the commercial trucks involved in the truck accident. A fully loaded large truck can weigh more than 80, 000 pounds, about 20 times more force and weight than a passenger vehicle.
The result of accidents between trucks, passenger vehicles, or other vehicles often results in fatal accidents or serious and life-altering injuries for all involved.
Deadly Crash Statistics
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), there were 4,842 fatal truck accidents involving large trucks in 2020, resulting in 4,965 fatalities. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) reported over 2,000 truck accidents in the state in 2019, with 80 resulting deaths.
These statistics emphasize the importance of taking action to reduce the danger of truck accidents and protect the public from harm with the implementation and application of stronger regulations and increased safety measures.
Size and Weight of Trucks
Truck weight and size are significant factors in trucking accidents with severe and fatal injuries. A fully loaded truck can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, making them significantly heavier than the average passenger car, which weighs around 4,000 pounds.
Additionally, the larger size and weight of commercial trucks make it much more difficult for them to stop quickly, which increases the risk of a collision. A large commercial vehicle involved in an accident with passenger cars can lead to catastrophic injuries and unfortunate fatalities.
Increased Damage Potential in Truck Accidents
The size and weight of a tractor-trailer often allow a big rig to cause more devastating damage in an accident to other vehicles and the surroundings than smaller vehicles or motorcycles could.
In an accident, a tractor-trailer has the potential to plow through many vehicles on the road instantly or into a house or business, often causing total destruction or, at the very least, significant property damage.
Big trucks find it more difficult to come to a complete stop than other vehicles due to their size and weight. They need much more space and time to complete a stop, which can increase the risk of a collision with a passenger vehicle.
The stopping distance increases when a commercial truck travels at high speed or over the speed limit. Such speed can have terrible consequences when large trucks collide with smaller vehicles unable to withstand the impact.
Truck drivers must always pay attention to their surroundings and other road users and be attentive to the possibility of a vehicle in their blind spots, utilizing the rearview mirror and side mirrors, especially during lane changes. All necessary precautions must be taken to avoid collisions when stopping, slowing down, or changing lanes.
Truck Driver Fatigue and Distractions
Truck driver fatigue and distractions are other major contributors to the danger of big rigs and car accidents. Long hours on the road and the monotony of driving can cause truck drivers to become drowsy or fall asleep, impairing their ability to make safe decisions and react quickly in emergencies.
As truck drivers become fatigued, they stop paying attention, and their ability to drive safely becomes impaired, especially with changing lanes and being attentive to other road users in their blind spots.
Fatigue can also affect a truck driver's decision-making abilities and judgment, making it more difficult to avoid dangerous situations or accidents on the road. Falling asleep behind the wheel can lead to serious accidents involving severe injuries and fatalities for other road users and the driver.
Truck drivers should take breaks when needed and get adequate rest before getting behind the wheel to minimize fatigue risk.
Use of Electronic Devices by a Truck Driver
Electronic devices can also be a significant distraction for truck drivers and increase the risk of trucking accidents. Texting, making phone calls, or using navigation systems while driving can divert a driver's attention from the road and make it difficult to react quickly in emergency situations.
Poorly Maintained Trucks
Poorly maintained trucks could also contribute to the danger of commercial truck crashes. It is essential that trucks are regularly inspected and properly maintained to ensure that they are in good working condition and safe to operate on the road.
Each trucking company must ensure that their trucks are inspected regularly and that any necessary repairs or maintenance are performed promptly to prevent being the cause of a serious accident.
Inadequate repairs can also contribute to the danger of truck crashes. If a semi-truck is not repaired properly, it may not be in good working condition and may be more likely to experience mechanical failures. It can increase the risk of serious accidents and result in catastrophic injuries or fatalities.
To minimize the risk of accidents, it is important that qualified mechanics perform any necessary repairs to trucks and that they are done to the highest standards.
Improper Loading of Cargo
Improper loading of cargo can also contribute to the danger of trucking accidents. The cargo must be loaded and secured correctly to ensure that it does not shift or fall from the truck during transit, creating a hazard for other drivers on the road.
Unsecured cargo can fall from the truck during transit and create a hazard for other drivers on the road. Shifting cargo of heavy loads can cause accidents and result in serious injuries or fatalities. To minimize the risk of an accident, cargo must be properly loaded and secured before the truck sets out on its journey.
Unbalanced cargo can also create a hazard for other drivers on the road. Load not evenly distributed on the semi-truck can cause the truck to tip over or become difficult to control, leading to accidents and serious injuries or fatalities.
To minimize the risk of an accident, it is important that cargo is balanced correctly on the truck and that the weight is distributed evenly.
Hazmat (hazardous materials) drivers must be over 21 and meet specific educational requirements. While driving, drivers must wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and have a Hazmat endorsement on their commercial driver’s license (CDL).
Trucking companies must ensure that the big rigs are marked with Hazmat placards, with the sub-category of the Hazmat classification on all four sides.
Inadequate Training of Truck Drivers
Trucking companies must ensure that all their truckers and independent contractors are adequately trained in the operation of their large trucks in all conditions and with the hauling of specific types of cargo.
Hauling tree logs is vastly different from hauling packs of paper, and a trucker's experience and expertise can often prevent an accident.
Lack of Safety Training
Lack of safety training can result in truckers being unable to handle emergencies while operating their vehicles. A trucking company must ensure that their truckers have all received comprehensive safety training before they operate the tractor-trailers, minimizing the risk of truck accidents.
Inadequate Vehicle Operation Training
Inadequate knowledge of vehicle operation can also contribute significantly to a truck accident. A truck driver needs to receive the proper licensing and accreditation, such as a CDL, before they begin driving on the road to minimize the risk of a truck accident.
Truck drivers without a good understanding of operating their vehicles could make costly judgment errors and drive negligently or unsafely in ignorance, resulting in truck accident injuries or fatalities.
Hire a Professional Law Firm and Experienced Truck Accident Attorneys
Hiring a truck accident attorney can help protect the rights of those involved in a commercial truck accident. An experienced truck accident lawyer can evaluate your case and provide all the legal options.
Truck accident attorneys can pursue financial compensation for loss and damages (medical expenses of common injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, burns, and fractures; loss of income; pain and suffering and emotional distress).
Experienced truck accident lawyers typically offer a free consultation for victims with personal injuries from truck accidents due to another driver's fault. During the consultation, the victim can discuss the details of their accident with the lawyer in a free case review.