Large commercial vehicles of all kinds have for many years now and continue to be a common site on Interstate Highways and county highways across the entire United States of America. In fact, there are some two million trucks driving on our roads each and every year that is responsible for distributing a wide range of products.
However, with so many of them being on your roads and driving long distances, it means that many of them are involved in traffic collisions. Because of the size and weight of these vehicles, it means that a large proportion of these collisions result in serious injuries or death.
Pennsylvania is one of the states in the country that has the most traffic collision involving large commercial trucks. If you have been involved in such an accident, then contact Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A. for a free no guaranteed consultation.
Truck Traffic Collision Statistics
In 2017, it was the case that more road traffic accidents involving semi trucks occurred on rural roads than on Interstate Highways. Just 15 percent of those crashes that were fatal happened on rural interstate highways, 27 percent happened on Interstate Highways, and 61 percent happened in rural areas on rural roads.
Although there are many reasons why a collision involving an 18 wheeler may occur, the most common reason is as a result of a collision with another vehicle that is on the road. 73 percent of those crashes that were fatal involved some sort of collision, 75 percent of property damage was incurred as the result of a collision, and 83 percent of collisions resulted in some sort of injury.
No matter what the cause of the collision was, some 39 percent of occupants of large trucks that were killed during the accident were not wearing a seat belt.
Established in 2000, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) acts as a part of the Department of Transport and is responsible for collecting statistics relating to traffic collisions involving commercial vehicles.
- In the year 2016, there were 151,246 road accidents in the United States of America with 4,655 fatalities occurring as a result.
- In 2017, this increased to 153,254 crashes but fatalities fell to 4,586.
- In 2018, the number of traffic collisions fell dramatically to 40,249, with just 1,002 fatalities.
Truck Collisions Vs Car Collisions
Collisions on the road are very common and both car collisions and truck collisions can result in injury, damage to property, and even fatalities. However, as you can expect, there are a number of things that apply to 18 wheelers that do not apply to smaller, lighter cars.
In order to protect other drivers on America’s roads, the commercial trucking industry is subject to lots of regulation in the form of both state and federal laws. It is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that is responsible for all operations relating to the industry and to ensure that each and every company involved in trucking operates safely at all times.
As a result, all commercial trucks are required to be aware of and follow all of the regulations that are in place, including abiding by certain weight restrictions, testing their drivers for alcohol and drug use, and ensuring that all of their vehicles are well maintained.
It is also the case that individual states possess their own local regulations that trucking companies must also abide by when passing through the state(s). These can differ greatly from state to state so it is important that the trucking companies have a good and comprehensive knowledge/understanding of all the necessary rules that they need to abide by. If not they could potentially find themselves in hot water and in trouble with the states, as well as making their insurance void.
Common Causes Of Truck Collisions
Some of the most common causes of traffic collisions involving semi-trucks include the driver not being adequately trained to operate the vehicle, improper loading, the driver being distracted, and malfunctioning of equipment.
Just like the rest of us driving on America’s roads, truck drivers are only human and so are also subject to cases of human error, just like we are. However, this is no excuse for driving their vehicle in a manner that can be deemed negligent or not taking care of whilst driving their truck, as this can and does lead to accidents happening.
Because of the often exhaustive environment that driving semi-trucks delivering cargo to certain set deadlines creates, it can leave drivers being deprived of sleep, which in turn impacts on their ability to stay alert and operate their truck correctly. Similarly, those drivers who are on the road whilst being intoxicated, either through drugs, alcohol, or both, also pose a great risk to others. Because of this, commercial goods drivers are held to much higher standards than what regular car drivers are.
A driver of an 18 wheeler must be properly trained otherwise they run the risk of causing a traffic collision. A specialist license is required to drive them because not only are they bigger and heavier than cars but they also handle much differently also. This is especially true if they are pulling a big load behind them. It is the responsibility of the various trucking companies across the country to ensure that not only do their drivers have all of the required training and license but that they also possess adequate experience before heading out onto the open road. Where a collision happens and it comes to light that the driver was not adequately trained that it voids any insurance policy that the trucking company may have in place.
Sometimes it may be the case that the issue does not lie with the driver but is actually the fault of a malfunctioning piece of kit/equipment or the truck itself. With a large vehicle of this type, there are lots more pieces and parts that can malfunction and go wrong in comparison to a car. This includes things such as the trailer hitch, the brakes etc.
With large trucks often containing large amounts of cargo, it is important that it is strapped down and fastened securely so that it does not come loose and cause an accident itself or cause the trailer to become unbalanced and jackknife.
Factors That Affect Truck Collisions
Those traffic collisions involving 18 wheelers differ greatly from those involving regular cars in a number of ways, which all contribute greatly to the overall severity of it. The main thing being here is that semi trucks are very large in size in comparison with a car. For instance, the typical car on the road in America weighs anywhere between 3,000 to 5,000 pounds, whereas a truck can weigh as much as 80,000 tons when connected to a full trailer. As a result, it is the car that takes the brunt of the damage rather than the semi-truck. Also, because of their great size, it can be difficult for large trucks to stop quickly when traveling at speed.
With semi trucks transporting all types of stock and cargo right across the country, it may be the case that some are carrying potentially hazardous and/or flammable materials, thus making a traffic collision a much more dangerous event. Where the cargo is not correctly secured into place, it could come loose in the event of an accident, causing even further issues.
It is the policy of some trucking companies to have their truck drivers out on the road for many hours at a time in order to meet deadlines regarding deliveries, regardless of what the weather conditions may be at the time. This can result in drivers driving in dangerous conditions and doing so when they are extremely tired, thus increasing their chances of having a traffic collision.
Because traffic collisions involving semi trucks typically cause a larger amount of serious damage than what car accidents do, it means that their insurance policies are worth millions of dollars. When and where an accident happens, the insurance company will aggressively do whatever they can to stop having to pay out a claim against them. This is why it can be beneficial to appoint a Semi trailer truck accident lawyer, who can handle your claim on your behalf and is more likely to win.
Straight after a traffic collision involving an 18 wheeler has happened, the driver is legally required to call in the incident to the company that they work for. It is as soon as this call comes in that together the trucking company and their insurance provider begin putting together an investigation – sending out a dedicated team of lawyers, investigators, and other experts to the accident site and collecting evidence to use against the claimant. These investigations are often very thorough, although time-consuming as it can be hard to determine exactly who was at fault for the traffic collision, especially where there are several parties involved.