SUVs and Trucks Pose Serious Dangers for the Environmentally Minded

With increasing concern about climate change and burning fossil fuels, many people are turning to fuel-efficient cars, such as electric or hybrid vehicles, or choosing to walk or ride a bike more often. While these actions might be commendable from an environmental-protection standpoint, they could be putting people Woman Riding Her Bike in a Bike Lane in Indianaat an increased risk of serious injury or death in a vehicle crash. Even as sales of electric vehicles and bicycles rise, the market for big pickups and SUVs has not fallen. If you have chosen a more environmentally friendly form of transportation and you come up against a truck or SUV on the road, you will lose the battle. If the truck driver was careless or negligent in their actions, you have a right to hold them accountable. Our Indianapolis truck accident attorney can help.

Common Causes of Passenger Truck Crashes in Indiana

As with any type of vehicle, certain driver behaviors increase the likelihood of a crash. However, when these negligent actions are taken by drivers of larger vehicles, they are more likely to lead to serious injuries and fatalities. In addition, there are certain behaviors that tend to be more typical of pickup truck and SUV drivers. Causes of catastrophic truck crashes include:

  • Overloaded or unstable vehicles. Yes, SUVs can hold a lot of passengers, and pickups can haul a ton of cargo, but there are limits on both for safety reasons. When a driver overloads their vehicle with people or gear, it can restrict the driver’s ability to see out the back and can destabilize the vehicle when making turns or stopping suddenly.
  • Distraction. Six passengers mean six times the distraction for a driver. Whether it is a family with a lot of kids or a big group of friends, it is much harder for the driver to focus on the road when the SUV is full of people. When a fully occupied SUV is involved in a crash, you can be sure that driver distraction played a role.
  • Towing. One reason for owning a pickup truck or SUV is for the ability to tow a trailer. Drivers might be towing a utility trailer, camper, snowmobiles, jet skis, or another full-size vehicle behind them, and in many cases, may not have the knowledge or experience to do it safely. If the towing capacity has been exceeded or the driver turns too quickly or tries to stop suddenly, the reaction of the trailer could cause a serious accident. 
  • Aggressive driving. We never like to stereotype drivers, but it does seem to be fairly common that people who drive large vehicles have a certain amount of confidence on the road. Sometimes, this over-confidence leads to aggressive driving. Assuming that their size gives them the right-of-way, truck and SUV drivers often make unsafe lane changes, pass through an intersection out of turn, or fail to follow at a safe distance. When these actions cause a collision with a smaller vehicle, the occupants of the smaller vehicle suffer the consequences.
  • Impaired driving. Drivers of trucks and SUVs are no more likely to be drunk than any other driver, but when they are, they pose a greater risk. Big vehicles have big blind spots, and an impaired driver is less likely to make an effort to look for other vehicles. When a drunk pickup or SUV driver causes a crash, the results can be devastating.

If you were in a crash with a pickup truck or SUV, you will need an experienced car accident attorney to determine whether the driver of the larger vehicle was at fault in causing the crash.

SUVs Are Particularly Dangerous for Pedestrians & Cyclists

If drivers of small cars are more likely to be injured by a larger vehicle, where does that leave pedestrians and bicyclists? Unfortunately, they are at an even greater risk of serious injury and death. A recent study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that SUVs are more lethal to pedestrians than cars. The study found the following:

  • At speeds of 20-39mph, 30 percent of SUV collisions and 23 percent of car collisions were fatal for the pedestrian.
  • At speeds over 40mph, 100 percent of SUV collisions and 54 percent of car collisions were fatal for the pedestrian.

Many communities have added bicycle lanes by narrowing the existing streets. Because pickup trucks and SUVs are wider than other cars, they pose a bigger threat to cyclists using these lanes. If the driver does not slow down and pay close attention, the biker could be knocked over and seriously injured or killed.

Injuries Resulting From Crashes With SUVs

Whether you were in a small car, walking, or riding a bike when you were hit by a pickup or SUV, you would be lucky to survive. Common catastrophic injuries that can result from a crash like this include:

  • Head and brain injuriesEven when there is no direct impact to the head, the force of a collision with a truck or SUV can cause the brain to be shaken up inside the skull, resulting in swelling, brain bleeds, and permanent cognitive damage. Brain injuries are often not diagnosed immediately, and a serious traumatic brain injury (TBI) could require years of rehabilitation and a lifetime of care.
  • Spinal cord damage. Injury to the bones, muscles, or nerves of the spinal column can cause permanent partial or complete paralysis. This kind of injury is life-changing and requires millions of dollars in medical treatment, adaptive devices, and personal care over a lifetime.
  • Loss of limbs. Arms, legs, hands, and feet can be crushed or burned so badly in a crash with a heavy vehicle that they must be amputated. The force of impact in some crashes could sever limbs, leaving the victim with a lifelong disability.
  • Internal injuries. While they may save an occupant’s life, seat belts and airbags can also impact the body in such a way during a collision that internal organs such as the bladder, spleen, liver, kidneys, or bowels are damaged. These injuries are often life-threatening and require emergency surgery and a lifetime of medication and care.

These kinds of injuries can be fatal, but even when they are not, the medical bills can be astronomical, and you should not have to pay them. Our car accident attorneys can help.

James R. Keller
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Partner at Keller & Keller