Read Time: 6 Minutes If you've ever found yourself boxed in between two large, fast-moving trucks while driving on the highway, or have driven past the scene of a devastating accident caused by an 18-wheeler, chances are you've asked yourself the question, "Are these really necessary on the road?" They seem more dangerous than good. Unfortunately, the trucking industry is essential to the nation's economy. Large trucks are used to transport goods in bulk over land, and we require these trucks to deliver goods to multiple destinations. So, it is even more unfortunate that despite their crucial role in the economy, these massive vehicles often cause the most damage on the roadway. The sheer size of trucks makes them a force to be reckoned with on the road. But, it's not just their length and weight that make trucks deadly. Keep reading to discover why truck accidents cause such devastation.
Taller Than Average VehiclesPassenger vehicles such as sedans and SUVs have been constructed to remain stable while driving. This entails the height of the vehicle being factored into the overall design. Trucks, on the other hand, have been made much taller than average vehicles. The standard height of an 18 wheeler is 13.6 feet. Standard height for passenger vehicles ranges between 5 feet and 6 feet. Since 18-Wheeler trucks are more than twice the height of an average vehicle, they are unstable compared to cars. Therefore, trucks are more vulnerable to rollovers from wind gusts, hard cornering, and swerving. When a truck of that height and width rolls over on the roadway, it can completely crush any passenger vehicle in its path, severely injuring or killing the vehicle's occupants. Likewise, many bridges and overpasses were not constructed with enough clearance height for trucks to pass underneath. If a truck driver uses a GPS meant for passenger vehicles, or simply takes a road they believe will accommodate them, they may not take into account the height clearance of the truck. Failing to notice this mistake, as well as failing to read proper warning signs, has caused serious truck accidents that severely impact the traffic behind the truck. When a large truck crashes abruptly, it can cause a massive pileup. Additionally, the top of the truck can be sheared off, and in some rare cases, the bridge can even be knocked down. These events further place other motorists at risk for injury or death.
Jackknifing Accidents Cause Traumatic InjuriesSemi-trucks are somewhat hard to turn. You've probably noticed this if you've ever been driving behind one and watched as its massive size ate up all adjoining lanes while turning. In fact, average turning width for a semi is 55 feet, which is nearly 5 times larger than the width of an average U.S. lane. Therefore, a common truck accident that can lead to injuries is a jackknifing-related crash. A jackknifing accident occurs when the two separate parts of the truck - the cab and the trailer - fold in on themselves at the point of separation. The cab and trailer swivel where they are linked together, forming a 90-degree angle, V-shape. Semis and other large trucks may end up jackknifing after quickly turning or suddenly breaking. When the trailer of a semi-truck jackknifes, it can swing across multiple lanes. This pendulum motion packs a punch of over 80,000 pounds and 28 feet of piercing metal. A jackknifing crash has disastrous results, causing severe personal injuries as well as death and indescribable destruction. Nearly 5 percent of all truck accidents are jackknife collisions. If you've been harmed in a jackknifing accident, contact an experienced truck accident lawyer today.
Hazardous Hauls Can be CatastrophicAnother factor in why tractor-trailer crashes are so dangerous is due to the freight they carry. Freight can be loaded improperly or unevenly, causing the truck to lose balance and rollover or jackknife on the road. Heavy freight such as metal or timber can be loaded haphazardly, imbalancing the truck or even breaking loose to wreak havoc on the traffic behind the truck. Or, the haul itself can be flammable or hazardous. Tanker trucks are somewhat smaller than semi-trucks, but still roughly 20 times heavier than cars. Not all tanker trucks carry hazardous material. In fact, some carry food products, such as milk.
When a negligent truck driver driving one of these tanker trucks causes an accident, victims suffer catastrophic injuries, and often are killed. Even those not involved in the accident can be harmed if their home or workplace is near a tanker spill and they are exposed to harmful chemicals.
However, a majority of the tanker trucks seen on Florida roads carry toxic substances such as:
- Agricultural pesticides
- Diesel fuel
- Household petroleum-based products
- Industrial chemicals
- Radioactive materials
What Could Happen?Semi-truck and tanker truck accidents are often caused by the same negligent behavior. This includes distracted driving, driving under the influence, speeding, drowsy driving, and other unsafe driving practices. However, due to the hazardous freight these trucks can be hauling, accidents with a truck are much more dangerous than accidents between two passenger vehicles.
Some of the devastating effects of trucking accidents include:
- Chemical Leaks and Spills: When a truck gets in an accident, there is always a danger that it will spill its load. This can endanger nearby motorists, either with the material itself or in the accidents caused as drivers swerve to avoid the material or liquid. Victims can suffer chemical burns that can result in disfigurement, scarring, and other medical problems along with the risk of contamination from radioactive material. Likewise, nearby residents and businesses can suffer injuries if toxic gases are released.
- Crashes From High-Stacked Cargo: When cargo such as wood, metal, or even cars are stacked too high on trucks, they can tumble off when the truck comes to a complete stop. Depending on the cargo, the falling object can crush a passenger vehicle. The falling cargo can also create obstacles on the road, causing drivers to swerve and crash into a neighboring vehicle.
- Explosions: Explosions are a likely consequence of accidents caused by trucks. The force of impact as well as life-threatening degree of burns that victims often suffer in an explosion heightens the risk of fatalities.
- Fires: When a truck is carrying flammable materials, such as gas or petroleum-based products, the likelihood of fire is greatly increased. Victims in passenger vehicles often suffer severe burns and other long-term injuries. Additionally, the presence of a fire causes other vehicles on the road to drive erratically, potentially causing an onset of related accidents between passenger vehicles.