When a tractor trailer is involved in the accident, the results can be catastrophic compared to a car crash. The risk of permanent or fatal injuries increases significantly. Also, these crashes tend to occur on highways where there are more vehicles traveling at higher speeds. A careless truck driver can cause serious injuries, resulting in crushing medical expenses, as well as the need for lifelong care.
Each year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) releases its Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts. In March 2019, the FMCSA released its report for accidents in 2017. In compiling its report, FMCSA regulators research accidents involving vehicles such as 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers, buses (including school buses), passenger transport vans, and other commercial vehicles, with “large truck” being defined as a truck weighing more than 10,000 pounds and a “bus” defined as any vehicle designed to transport 9 or more people, including the driver.
Overall deaths involving crashes with large trucks also continue to rise. The agency said 4,678 people died in collisions with large trucks last year. That’s up by almost 1 percent from the 4,369 that died in 2017. Fatalities involving large trucks increased for the fourth consecutive year, the NHTSA said. And pedestrians killed in crashes involving large trucks increased by 13 percent last year.
There are several factors that lead to these kids of crashes:
- Speeding – in the trucking and transport industry, drivers often face significant time crunches. Passengers want to make it to their destination by a certain time, delivery deadlines must be met, and so on. Thus, there can be an incentive to do anything possible to make it to the final destination as quickly as possible. Some interstate truck drivers get paid by mile driven – this gives them an incentive to speed drive as many miles as possible in a given day.
- Distraction – distracted driving affects more than large truck drivers, but it can be more dangerous with these vehicles based on their size and weight. Distracted driving includes cell phone use, texting, surfing the Internet, eating, fiddling with the radio, or doing anything besides focusing 100% on the road.
- Driver Fatigue – FMCSA regulations are designed to specifically limit fatigued drivers. Drivers who are tired suffer from limited reaction times, propensity to dozing off, lapses in judgment, and failures in perceiving depth, among other issues. Studies show tired drivers do not make as good of decisions as drivers who are well-rested.
- Careless driving – by paying attention and not speeding, anyone should be able to drive safely. Careless driving falls within the legal definition of negligence. Each state has its own definition for negligence, but generally speaking it means when a driver fails to drive safely and obey the rules of the road.
- Drunk/impaired driving – commercial truck and bus drivers are prohibited from driving while intoxicated or impaired. For the average driver, the legal limit of intoxication is a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08%. Furthermore, tractor trailer and bus drivers should not be using controlled substances while driving. The abuse of alcohol or controlled substances may be a factor in the crash.
Major Differences between car and truck crashes
Big rigs or commercial freight trucks usually weigh at least 80,000 pounds-twenty times heavier than regular cars. Ideally, truck drivers should stop driving after 10 hours. But, many drivers tend to drive longer due to deadlines or to earn overtime. This endangers the safety of other drivers because these overworked truck drivers tend to become less alert.
1) Larger Insurance Policy
The insurance policies truck driving companies have can be 50 times more than regular auto insurance policies. This means that trucking policies may be worth millions of dollars. That motivates the insurance company’s attorney to vigorously defend the case. Jeff has the experience to deal with insurance companies and their attorneys, and to maximize your recovery.
2) Increased Property Damage
As we discussed above, tractor trailers and buses weigh quite a bit more than a passenger car or SUV. A truck of that size has the potential to do massive amounts of damage.
3) More Serious Injuries
The injuries in a high-speed crash with a tractor trailer can be life-altering-even fatal. Your injuries may require lengthy hospitalization and multiple surgeries. You may need home care. You may be disabled from work for a long time-if you are ever able to return to work.
If you, or one of your relatives, are injured in a crash with a bus or a tractor trailer, call or e-mail Jeff. He has the resources to properly investigate your case, and will work with you to put your life back together.