There are over 500,000 18-wheeler accidents resulting in approximately 5000 fatalities in America every year. Almost 100 percent of 18-wheeler deaths are to the drivers and passengers other than the driver of the big rig. Because of their sheer size and weight, (over 80,000 lbs. fully-loaded) , 18-wheeler accidents can cause devastating injuries and multiple loss of life. It is not uncommon for 18-wheelers to lose control and jackknife on crowded interstate highways in inclement weather conditions such as heavy rain or snow, or other situations. Jackknife accidents can involve many other vehicles, crushing them beneath the weight of the trailer. Other times in city driving, cars can be crushed when attempting to pass an 18-wheeler that is attempting to make a right-hand turn. The most common causes of 18-wheeler accidents are driver fatigue, overloading, text messaging, and inexperienced operators.
Truck drivers struggling to meet a deadline, often drive for long hours without a break. It is not uncommon for a big rig driver to be operating on very little sleep causing the most hazardous of all highway situations. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), driver fatigue can account for upwards of 40% of all commercial trucking accidents and 13% of fatalities that result from 18-wheelers colliding with other motor vehicles.
Overloading or improper loading of the trailer section of an 18-wheeler can cause the truck to become unstable and overturn, crushing the motor vehicles next to it. Overloading an 18-wheeler can also cause brake failure with obvious adverse consequences. In addition, overloading a semi-truck could cause the tires to wear unevenly resulting in a blowout on a long-haul job.
Cell Phone and Text Messaging
Nowhere is the temptation to use a smartphone or cellphone device greater than during the lonely, monotonous hours 18-wheeler operators experience during a long haul. Text messaging has surpassed drunk driving as the nation’s number one cause of motor vehicle fatalities and truck drivers are no exception.
Improper Training and Maintenance
Not every land shipping company requires their drivers to have the legally-required driver training. Companies that do their own trucking may not make proper truck maintenance a priority. A fleet of under-maintained vehicles that are driven by inexperienced drivers presents an immediate catastrophic risk of serious accidents, injuries, and potential fatalities. Important safety rules that trucking companies must follow are to replace tires and change breaks on a fixed schedule and to keep a maintenance log available for immediate inspection for each vehicle.
If you are involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler you are required to stay at the scene of the accident and to administer first aid to those needing it if you are able to do so. The next thing to do is to call 911 to get immediate medical attention. You may have a case to sue the trucking company if you have experienced property damage or physical injury so you should take notes and pictures of the damage to give to your attorney, like a truck accident lawyer relies on, and insurance company. Above all, remember to exercise precaution and to remain safe.