Approximately one in 10 fatal motor vehicle accidents involve a large truck, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). In such wrecks, surrounding motorists are at a decided disadvantage. Each year, thousands of people lose their lives in trucking accidents and more than 100,000 are seriously injured. More than three-quarters of those injured and as many as 97 percent of those killed in crashes involving a large truck are the occupants of the passenger vehicle.
Although no two large truck accidents are exactly the same, certain themes emerge in studies surrounding crashes in the commercial trucking industry. Types of truck accidents most commonly associated with injuries include:
- Rollover accidents: The design of a large truck – primarily due to a high center of gravity – lends itself to instability in certain conditions, such as during inclement weather, or while navigating a sharp turn or a steep decline or incline. An improperly loaded trailer can also exacerbate the topsy-turvy nature of a large truck. Most rollover accidents are preventable with training and even loading of cargo.
- Jackknife accidents: These occur when a large truck loses traction or brakes sharply, causing the trailer portion of the truck to form a 90-degree angle with the rig. A jackknifed trailer can be impossible for oncoming motorists to avoid if the trailer spans the entire road surface. For this reason, jackknife accidents often involve multiple vehicles in addition to the large truck.
- Lost loads: All cargo must be properly loaded and securely stored for transit. Large trucks that spill their loads create a hazard for trailing vehicles – particularly those who are immediately behind.
- Underride accidents: These types of crashes often result in the most catastrophic injuries to passenger vehicle occupants. Rear-underride and side-underride accidents occur when a smaller vehicle collides with a large truck and slides or wedges beneath the trailer. Although most large trucks are equipped with guards to prevent rear-underride accidents, the IIHS maintains that the guards are effective only when the trailing vehicle is traveling at 35 mph or less, and strikes the center of the trailer. Trailing vehicles traveling at higher speeds or that strike the trailer in an off-center position were not assisted by the underride guards, according to the IIHS.
- No-zone accidents: A large truck has four blind spots which can vary depending on the type of truck. Known as no-zones, these blind spots are particularly troublesome during lane changes or while executing a left or right-hand turn. Commercial truck drivers must stay mindful of their no-zones and remain observant of surrounding motorists who may be affected.
- Head-on, rear-end crashes: Head-on and rear-end collisions are often the result of the truck driver’s failure to deploy the brakes in time due to driver distraction, drowsy driving, or other factors. To that end, head-on and rear-end crashes are the most deadly – but also the most preventable – large truck accidents on the road today. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 73 percent of all fatal large truck accidents involve a head-on or rear-end crash.
- Tire blowouts: Large trucks are routinely inspected by regulators but must also be personally inspected by drivers before every trip. By law, drivers of large trucks must ensure that their tires are properly inflated. Under or over-inflated tires are more susceptible to blowouts, which can cause a driver to lose control of a large truck.
- Hazardous material accidents: Large trucks carrying hazardous materials such as corrosives, explosives, flammable liquids, and infectious substances pose an even greater risk in the event of a wreck. In addition to those involved in the accident, others such as first responders, passing motorists, and residents of the surrounding area may also be affected. Large trucks transporting hazardous materials must be clearly marked as such, so that emergency responders can take proper precautions upon arrival at the scene.
Time of Day, Time of Year Play a Factor in Large Truck Accidents
Statistics show that most fatal and nonfatal large truck accidents happen during the work week. Moreover, the FMCSA maintains that 37 percent of all large truck accidents resulting in loss of life take place during the overnight hours, defined as 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. Summer is when fatal large truck accidents are most likely to occur, due to increased road traffic, larger loads, and a greater risk of tire blowouts.
Columbia Truck Accident Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Seek Justice and Compensation for Truck Accident Victims and Their Families
Failure to operate or load a large truck safely can quickly lead to life-changing injuries, not only for the truck driver, but also the innocent motorists with whom they share the road. If you or a loved one has been injured in a large truck accident, the South Carolina trucking accident lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. will investigate your claim and pursue damages on your behalf. Contact us online or call 803-929-3600 or 866-881-8623 to schedule a consultation at our offices in Columbia, Charleston, Rock Hill, Aiken, Florence, and Sumter, South Carolina.