Most Common Types of Truck Accidents
America’s highways are home to over 36.9 million commercial trucks, which drive a combined 304.9 billion miles annually. They are the lifeblood of the US goods transport system carrying 80% of all freight nationally.
However, they are also 20-30 times heavier than the average passenger car and are involved in a staggering 118,000 collisions with injuries per year. Despite accounting for just 4% of all registered vehicles in the US, they are responsible for 10% of all fatal auto accidents.
What causes these accidents? Let’s take a look at the most common types of truck accidents and what to do if you or a loved one are involved in one.
Why Do Truck Accidents Happen?
According to a study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the most common causes of truck accidents include:
- Failure to exercise due care, followed too closely, or was speeding (38% of all accidents)
- Inattentive or distracted driving (28%)
- Driver fell asleep, was impaired, or suffered a medical emergency (12%)
- Vehicle malfunction, such as brake failure (10%)
- Driver overcorrected or panicked (9%)
- Poor road conditions or weather (3%)
These statistics include data from truck accidents caused by both truck drivers and passenger vehicles. While they don't specify how often, for example, it's the truck driver that failed to exercise due care, they do demonstrate that a driver is to blame in the overwhelming majority of crashes (87%).
Common Types of Truck Accidents
While all vehicles have blind spots (areas where the driver can’t see the road or other vehicles), trucks have four, and they are much larger than the average passenger car. Truck blind spots include:
- About 20 feet directly in front of the truck
- Roughly 30 feet directly behind the truck
- One lane on the left of the truck beside and behind the driver window
- Two lanes on the right extending out and back from the passenger side mirror·
Some trucks use cameras and additional mirrors to eliminate these blind spots, but in general, it's best not to follow a truck in a position where you can't see its mirrors—because the driver can't see you. Blindspot accidents are often sideswipes when switching lanes.
In a roll-over accident, the truck or its trailer rolls over, potentially blocking the road or colliding with other vehicles. Anything that causes the driver to lose control may lead to a roll-over accident.
However, 45% of all roll-over truck accidents result from excessive speed, particularly as a result of misjudging the appropriate speed to take a curve. Other common causes included improperly secured loads, brake failure, and road conditions.
Underride accidents are a type of rear-end accident that most often occur when a truck stops quickly. The vehicle following the truck has insufficient time to stop and collides with the rear of the truck, slipping under the carriage.
About 65% of all underride accidents prove fatal, making them among the most dangerous truck accident types. An increasing number of trucks now feature guards to reduce the severity of underride accidents.
Another type of truck accident often caused by rapid braking, jackknife accidents result when the cab of a truck stops suddenly and the trailer doesn’t, propelling the trailer forward at a 90-degree angle (like a knife opening). Beyond rapid braking, brake failure or road conditions may also play a factor.
In a head-on accident, the truck collides head-on with another vehicle. Most head-on accidents occur when either the truck or another vehicle enters the opposing lane while passing or due to loss of control. Being a big rig can weigh anywhere from 35,000 to 80,000 pounds, like underride accidents, head-on collisions often result in fatalities.
Direct side impacts rather than sideswipes are referred to as T-bone accidents because the two vehicles form a "T." They often occur when a truck is entering the roadway, entering an intersection, or turning right on a red light.
What to Do if You Are a Victim of a Truck Accident
If you or a loved one were involved in a truck accident, you may be able to hold the truck driver, their employer, the truck manufacturer, or another third-party responsible. It’s best to contact an accident attorney to discuss your case. Remember to collect as much evidence from the scene as possible and maintain thorough medical records.
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