Automobiles today are the safest and easiest to drive they have ever been, with traffic fatalities in the U.S. dropping every year. This is great news, but trucks are still being found to be less safe than cars.
Trucks (including SUVs) are bigger and heavier than cars. They also sit higher up than cars, and are usually more powerful. These aspects of trucks make their drivers feel more confident and secure while driving, but they also make them much more dangerous than smaller vehicles, and the results can be devastating when they are involved in an accident.
Each year, about 4,000 people are killed in large truck crashes, with 100,000 injured. Most of these are occupants in other cars in 2011, 72% of deaths from large truck accidents were people riding in other vehicles. 11% were non-occupants of vehicles, while 17% were occupants of trucks. The estimated yearly cost of all accidents involving commercial vehicles, most of which are trucks, is over $83 billion.
Trucks represent an immense amount of power when in motion. Regulations require that tractor-trailers need to be able to stop in 310 feet when moving at 60 mph. This is quite a long distance (more than a football field), and in most cases it takes even longer because the driver has to see a reason to stop and react to it. It’s easy to see why these vehicles become so destructive when they get out of control.
Truck accidents, particularly with commercial trucks, are different than car accidents when it comes to the law, and a truck accident attorney is usually needed. Truck companies are responsible for the competence of their drivers as well as the safety of any trucks they have on the road. Driving records and logs as well as inspection reports all need to be examined.
Many truck accidents are the fault of the driver or company and can be prevented. Speeding is a particularly dangerous habit, and can be checked in court via the ‘black box’ recording device included in tractor-trailers.
Truck drivers often end up driving for many hours at a time, and fatigue is common. Log books are supposed to show how many hours a driver spent driving, how long they spent resting, etc. Trucks also carry heavy loads, and it is important to load trailers properly. Trailers with uneven loads can make the vehicle more difficult to handle and can increase the risk of tipping over.
Truck accidents are complex and different than car crashes and they need to be handled with care, by a professional truck accident lawyer.