With the improvements made over the years in passenger vehicle safety, the number of Americans who died in auto accidents in 2010 declined to a level not seen in over sixty years (according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). But in that same year, fatal truck accident victims actually climbed by 8.7% from 2010 to 3,675. In other words, more than 10 people per day on average were killed as the result of a truck accident in 2010.
It’s easy to see why fatalities are more likely to occur in truck accidents than in collisions involving passenger vehicles. Tractor-trailers are several times heavier than cars, which tends to result in more damage when big rigs strike another object or vehicle. And because of their large size, 18-wheelers are harder to control and require more time and distance to slow down or stop.
According to the NHTSA, over half of all truck accident fatalities in the U.S. stem from these four scenarios:
- An oncoming vehicle collides head-on with a tractor-trailer.
- An oncoming vehicle sideswipes a tractor-trailer.
- A vehicle rear-ends a tractor-trailer.
- A tractor-trailer slams into one or more vehicles.
Not surprisingly, NHTSA data indicates that the deadliest type of trucking accident is the head-on collision. But there are other kinds of tractor-trailer accidents which can cause fatalities, including:
- Jackknife accidents. These take place when an 18-wheeler’s cab is bent back toward the trailer. Jackknife accidents are common if the truck driver turns to sharply or spins the steering wheel to quickly, causing the cab to travel in a different direction than the payload.
- Override accidents. These occur when a big rig runs over the top of a passenger vehicle. In an override accident, the truck driver is usually at fault because the truck almost always initiates the collision. Tailgating by 18-wheelers is a common factor in override accidents.
- Underride accidents. On the other hand, underride accidents happen when a passenger vehicle slides underneath the trailer during a collision. These crashes can further be broken down into side underride accidents and rear underride accidents, depending on where the vehicle struck the 18-wheeler.
- Rollover accidents. These are different from jackknife accidents because the cab and the trailer turn over at roughly the same time, and they end up on their side or upside down. Rollover accidents are often caused by a sudden and unexpected shift in the 18-wheeler’s cargo or payload.
Finally, here are some conditions and situations which raise the odds of a truck accident.
- heavier-than-normal payloads
- completely empty trailers
- two-lane, undivided roadways
- curvy roads
- speeds exceeding 55 miles per hour
- inclement weather
If you have been injured in a truck accident, you may be entitled to relief through a personal injury lawsuit. Before you talk to your insurance adjuster get your copy of Rights of Injured Truckers written by truck accident lawyer Barry Doyle as soon as possible.