Semi-trucks log more hours and travel more miles on Arizona highways than most passenger automobiles. When a large truck crashes into a smaller vehicle, the occupants of the smaller vehicle are the ones most likely to suffer. The statistics from 2018 are staggering. According to an analysis of data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 11% of all motor vehicle crash deaths that year occurred in large truck accidents. In semi-truck crashes, 96% of the victims killed were the occupants of the passenger vehicles.
To understand why you would want to avoid an auto accident with a tractor-trailer or any other large commercial truck, it is important to understand three major differences between large trucks and passenger vehicles.
Weight and Size
The average passenger sedan on Tucson highways today weighs between 3,000 and 4,000 pounds. The average length is 12 to 18 feet. The US Department of Transportation (DOT) defines a large truck as having a gross weight of 10,001 to 80,000 pounds and a length between 70 and 80 feet. Additionally, these vehicles require specialized licensing to operate.
The size and weight difference alone creates a much higher risk for any passenger vehicles in crashes that involve semi-trucks.
Longer Stopping Distance
The overall length and weight also have a drastic effect on how quickly a large commercial tractor-trailer can stop. This includes the weight and type of load they are carrying. Leaving an inadequate following distance or failing to properly secure their load can lead to disaster.
Factors that affect stopping distance include weather conditions, following distance, and vehicle maintenance (such as making sure the brakes and tires are in good condition). Being aware of these is the responsibility of the truck driver and the company they work for. If any are overlooked, it could put other drivers in danger.
Large commercial vehicles cannot avoid obstacles as quickly as smaller vehicles. They do not have the ability to quickly swerve to avoid an obstacle or another car. If a truck is hauling a trailer, a sudden stop could cause the vehicle to jackknife. This is when the trailer moves at an angle, creating a “V” shape. Jackknife accidents are some of the most deadly types of truck crashes. The most common causes of these types of accidents are improper brake adjustment and maintenance, high speeds, sharp curves, adverse weather conditions, and driver fatigue or inexperience.
We Know Semi-Truck Crashes are Different
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Many victims of collisions with large trucks are surprised to find out the lengths some trucking companies and their insurers will go to in order to avoid accepting responsibility for an accident. If you or a loved one has been injured or has died in a semi-truck crash, it is important to have someone knowledgeable about the trucking industry to fight for you. At Grabb & Durando, our experienced personal injury lawyers will work tirelessly to get you the compensation you deserve.