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Common Causes of Indiana Truck Accidents & Big Rig Dangers: Truck Size & Weight

Nearly 4,000 people die every year in crashes involving commercial semi-trucks. Given the truck’s much greater size and weight, it is not surprising that occupants of passenger cars and trucks account for almost 70 percent of these deaths. The size difference between commercial tractor trailers and passenger vehicles is so great that occupants of the smaller vehicles really don’t stand a chance in a crash.

Why Are Trucks Responsible for So Many Fatalities?

Most of us know that truckers are on the road for long hours, and while drowsy driving poses serious danger to everyone, it is the size and weight of the Black and White Drawing of a Semi-Trucktractor-trailers that make them particularly deadly in a crash. Because trucks weigh considerably more than the other vehicles, they become harder to control. Actions like braking, turning, and steering must be given special consideration, especially in dangerous weather or on precarious road surfaces. Some of the more common dangers involving semi-trucks and their size include:

  • Blind spots and no-zones. Because of their length and build, trucks have much larger blind spots than regular vehicles. The area directly behind the truck and diagonally to each side of the truck are invisible to the truck driver, and should be "no-zones" to any other vehicles in the area. Common accidents include trucks changing lanes into a vehicle located in a blind spot or a truck breaking suddenly when there is a car directly behind them.
  • Wide turn awareness. Also because of their size, trucks need to swing wide to the left when making right turns and wide to the right when making left turns. Accidents occur from this situation when trucks do not see smaller vehicles flanking them on either side or when cars or motorcycles are to the right of the truck and next to the curb during a right turn. Be aware that trucks make wide turns.
  • Weight distribution/rollovers. Trucks are often top-heavy with cargo and cumbersome in general and they are much more susceptible to rollovers when turning too fast or driving on on-ramps or off-ramps. Rollovers can also occur in adverse weather conditions.‚Äč
  • Jackknifing. If truck drivers lose control of their big rig, the cab of the truck can do one thing and the trailer of the truck can do another. In many situations, this involves the trailer swinging around 360 degrees, taking out any other vehicles in its path, so that the cab comes to rest in the opposite direction of the trailer (like a jackknife). Jackknifing can happen if a truck brakes too fast or makes sudden changes in direction.

If You’ve Been in an Accident With a Truck, We Can Help

Being involved in an accident with a commercial truck can be dangerous and frightening enough. However, if you were injured in the accident, the daunting task of facing down the trucking company’s insurance adjuster can be frightening as well. You don't have to take on this fight alone. Contact Keller & Keller today at 1-800-253-5537 for a free, no-obligation consultation. From our Indianapolis offices, we’re proud to serve the entire state of Indiana. Call us today to learn more.

 

drowsy truck driver statistics

  • Studies have shown that being awake for a long period of time (18 hours) will leave a driver with the motor reflexes of someone who has a BAC level of 0.08%, putting them at equal risk of crashing.
  • Commercial trucks account for a small percentage of registered vehicles on our roadways, yet account for an alarming number of passenger vehicle accidents that involve death. (According to a 1999 report by the NHTSA, large trucks accounted for 3% of the registered vehicles on our highways, however, they were responsible for 13% of passenger vehicle deaths.)
  • Fatigue and drowsy driving is said to be a contributing factor in as many as 30-40% of all commercial truck accidents.
  • A 1995 National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) study found that of 107 heavy truck crashes, fatigue was a prominent factor in 75% of the run-off-the-road crashes, with 68% of long-haul drivers and 49% of short haul drivers suffering fatigue-related crashes.
  • A commerical truck driver who skips mandated rest breaks and sleep, greatly increases the likelihood of their being involved in an accident due to drowsiness. Additionally, a truck driver's ability to gain proper restorative sleep is affected even if they try to "catch up" on sleep when they have a day off.
  • Australian research and on-site investigations over the last several years have determined that, overall, one crash in every five among truck drivers is due to falling asleep at the wheel and that up to 30% of truck crash fatalities on rural roads are due to sleep deprivation.
  • The risk of a crash effectively doubles from the eighth to the tenth hour of driving, and doubles again from the tenth to the eleventh hour of driving alone. (FMCSA, 2000).

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