When you consider that one out of every 10 highway fatalities involves a large truck, it is a sobering statistic. Likewise, the majority of fatal injuries in collisions involving oversize commercial trucks occur to drivers and occupants of passenger vehicles.
It is easy to understand why that happens when you consider that a fully loaded big rig can weigh as much as 20 to 30 times as much as a midsize sedan. Not only are they larger and heavier, but commercial freight trucks tower over most vehicular traffic while also having more ground clearance than cars do. In an accident, this can cause a car to slide up underneath the trailer on a truck, causing catastrophic injuries to the car’s driver and passengers. Often wrecks of this nature involve multiple fatalities.
While trucks are supposed to be equipped with special rear underride guards to prevent just that from happening, research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicates otherwise. Even though the guards meet federally established safety standards, they fail regularly in even crashes at low speeds.
The IIHS petitioned federal regulators to mandate that these underride guards be manufactured to be strong enough to stay in place during collisions. They also seek to expand the rules to require the installation of these guards on more semi trucks with trailers.
Because the braking capacity for large trucks differs widely from the capacity of passenger vehicles, this, too, factors into the frequency of serious injuries and deaths when the big rigs are involved in a crash on the highway. It takes a much greater distance for a truck to come to a stop than it does for a car. When inclement weather makes the roads treacherous, the risk factor climbs even higher.
Another problem inherent in the design of most commercial trucks is that their height puts them at risk for rolling over in a crash. Some in the industry believe that requiring semis to have electronic stability control could decrease accidents.
Lastly, truck driver error due to fatigue ups the risk for collisions. Realistically, many truckers regularly violate the rules that allow no more than 11 hours of drive time at one stretch, which is already a long period.
If you were injured in a wreck with a big rig, you may be entitled to financial compensation. It’s wise to find out what your legal options are.
Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “Large trucks,” accessed Aug. 05, 2015