Large Truck Crashes

By James Merritt, Jr., Attorney at Law

Whether you call them big rigs, tractor trailers, combination trucks, or semi’s, in large truck versus car collisions the car almost always loses. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)[1], trucks can weigh 20-30 times as much as the cars involved in the crash. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 2.9% of all crashes in 2010 involved large trucks; 7.8% of those crashes were fatal[2], with 3,484 deaths reported. Another 58,000 of these “big rig” vs. car accidents involved injury.

The majority of large truck crashes (76.5%) were with other vehicles in transit. Frontal collisions accounted for the largest group (30.4%), followed by rear collisions (19.9%), right side (14%) and left side (11.8%). Most large truck accidents occur during daylight hours on weekdays, with 50% happening between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m.  On a positive note, only 5% of truck drivers involved in fatal accidents in 2010 had a blood alcohol reading above .08%; 33% of the drivers of passenger vehicles involved in fatal accidents were above the legal limit.

Some common causes of truck accidents include driver fatigue, poorly maintained equipment, and longer braking distances required to stop a truck. Passenger car and light truck drivers should use caution when driving around trucks, making certain to allow the truck sufficient braking distance (don’t cut off a truck, especially if the roads are wet) and staying out of the truck’s blind spots (if you cannot see the truck’s side mirrors, the driver may not be able to see your car).  Learn more about how to avoid being involved in a car vs. large truck accident.

The regulations governing commercial drivers are different than those for drivers of cars and light trucks. If you have been injured in an auto accident involving a large truck, or you have lost a loved one in the crash, you may wish to consult with a Raleigh Durham truck and auto accident attorney to learn your rights.

[1] http://www.iihs.org/research/fatality.aspx?topicName=Largetrucks&year=2010#Comparisonoflargetruckcrashesandpassengervehiclecrashes

[2] http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811659.pdf

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