Large semi-trucks continue to be the biggest and most dangerous vehicles commonly seen on U.S. roads. In 2012 alone, more than 3,500 people lost their lives in truck accidents, and crashes involving large trucks account for about 10 percent of highway deaths annually.
Obviously, the size and weight of trucks makes them dangerous to other drivers. But trucks pose other hazards as well. Today we’ll discuss three of the most common hazards that can lead to fatal truck accidents: Bad brakes, vehicle underride and truck driver fatigue.
Even in ideal weather and with ideal road conditions, trucks require considerable time and distance to come to a stop. But road conditions and weather are often far from ideal. Moreover, trucking companies often put off brake repairs and replacements for longer than is safe. Together, these can add up to a fatal crash even when truck drivers are paying attention and try to brake in time.
If you’ve ever passed a semi-truck, you have probably noticed that the ground clearance underneath the trailer is nearly as tall as your entire vehicle. Underride accidents occur when a smaller vehicle slides underneath the trailer of a truck, either partially or completely. Many underride accidents involve a sedan’s front end sliding underneath the back of a trailer and becoming stuck. The smaller vehicle is then dragged or crushed.
To prevent this, rear underride guards have become a standard feature on trucks in some fleets. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, however, even guards that meet federal safety standards can fail during low to moderate-speed crashes.
Truck Driver Fatigue
It doesn’t matter how safe the equipment on a truck is if the driver is fatigued. The risk of a truck accident increases dramatically. Sadly, truck drivers often feel compelled to stay behind the wheel far longer than is legal or safe. There have been several high-profile truck accidents caused by fatigued driving this summer alone.
Truck accidents are surprisingly common, but they are also preventable. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured (or killed) in a truck accident, please share your story with an experienced personal injury attorney.