According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, 4,761 traffic fatalities involving large trucks took place in the most recent year for which data is available. This is a 9 percent increase from the previous year.
As the number of large trucks on the roads increases, so do the accidents. Though many collisions are the result of driver error, negligence or unsafe behavior, not all result from bad truck drivers. Instead, the size and the logistics of maneuvering these vehicles make them inherently dangerous in a collision, and frequently the trucking companies place unrealistic and dangerous expectations on their drivers.
If you or a loved one were injured in a truck accident, contact a licensed truck accident attorney for more information about your rights.
Common Trucks on the Road
A truck is a truck, right? Many drivers assume they’re all fundamentally the same, but that’s not true. Different trucks have different duties and present different dangers. A box truck usually hauls smaller loads and is more likely to travel on residential roads. A flatbed truck may carry an extra-wide load and require an extremely wide turning radius. Knowing the trucks that share the road with you can help you understand the specific challenges their driver’s face.
Tractor-trailers go by many different names: Semis, semi-trucks, big rigs, 18-wheelers. They’re all other names for the large trucks that haul our goods across the United States. A tractor-trailer consists of a semi-truck, which houses the engine and the cab. A tractor-trailer, the hauling portion of the truck, stores the goods. Fully loaded, these vehicles can weigh up to 80,000 pounds.
Because these trucks often haul products from one state to another, we typically see them driving on the interstate highways. However, it may come as a surprise to learn that statistics show only 25 percent of large truck fatalities happen on the interstate. It was recently noted that a whopping 58 percent of fatal crashes happened on rural roads.
Tractor-trailers require a large turning radius and have several large blind spots. Knowing this, drivers need to stay at a distance, especially when behind a truck, and allow truck drivers plenty of room to move.
Similar to tractor-trailers, flatbed trucks consist of two parts, the semi and the flatbed. Flatbed trucks haul products that are too large to fit in a trailer. These products are secured using chains, tie-downs, and other devices. The federal government regulates how drivers must secure their loads. An improperly secured load can fall off the truck or shift during transport, creating a dangerous situation for both the driver and surrounding vehicles.
When we think of box trucks, two different types of vehicles come to mind. The traditional box truck consists of a cab and a separate trailer. The design is similar to a tractor-trailer but much smaller. The most common example of a box truck is a small moving truck or delivery truck. We commonly associate the second kind of box truck with what is actually a box van. These vehicles have a unibody design where the driver can access the trailer from the cab, like a mail truck.
Besides their smaller size, one feature sets box trucks apart from most other trucks on this list. In most cases, the driver of a box truck does not need to hold a commercial driver’s license. The logic for this is that these trucks are much smaller and are only allowed to carry a maximum load of 20,000 pounds. While smaller than a tractor-trailer, these trucks are still much larger than a passenger vehicle. Most drivers don’t have the necessary experience to drive these vehicles, so always exercise extra caution around them.
It seems like there’s new construction every day in California. Whether it’s a highrise building or residential home, construction is everywhere in the Golden State. While you may not instantly associate construction with dump trucks, the two go hand-in-hand. Project managers rely on dump trucks to deliver loose materials like dirt, bark chips, and gravel.
Several features separate dump trucks from other vehicles. Like a flatbed, these vehicles have an open trailer. Due to the nature of its cargo, a dump truck is designed to allow the trailer to tip up so the contents of the trailer can be dumped out. Because of their open-top design, loose debris can fly out of the truck’s trailer. This can pose a hazard to nearby drivers.
Tanker trucks transport liquid substances. You’ve likely seen these trucks at the gas station when filling up. In addition to gas, these trucks may transport milk, chemicals, water, or oil. While all large trucks pose a danger on the road, a collision with a tanker truck can have catastrophic results. It is not always obvious what a tanker truck is carrying. Because of this, you should always assume that the truck is transporting a hazardous material and keep your distance.
There’s no need to describe what a garbage truck is or what it does. We’ve all seen these trucks driving down the roads in our neighborhoods. They are so commonplace that we often don’t give these trucks a second thought.
This is dangerous. While most truck accidents happen on the open road, garbage truck accidents can happen right outside your front door.
Drivers have to negotiate narrow roadways, parked cars, and children playing in the streets. They are constantly stopping and have large blind spots on all sides. This doesn’t even take into consideration the potentially hazardous materials in the truck and the robotic arms on the sides. Never follow a garbage truck closely. Allow plenty of room when driving behind a truck. If you need to pass, use extreme caution and watch for a driver exiting the truck.
All truck accidents can cause serious injuries. After an accident, you may struggle to find the resources to help you get back on your feet. A qualified truck accident attorney can help you recover costs associated with your injuries and help you begin to move on.