You don’t have to be hit by an 18-wheeler to be unsettled by them. Just standing on the roadside, feeling air displacement as one rumbles by is enough to throw you off balance. In Texas, an 18-wheeler wreck often makes the news because they cause such tremendous damage to life and property.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the U.S. Department of Transportation, in 2017 more than 4,000 people died in large truck crashes. Only 17 percent of those deaths were the 18-wheeler driver. The rest were people in other, smaller vehicles, pedestrians or bicyclists.
Around one in 10 highway deaths occurs in a crash involving a large truck. The numbers are much higher for 18-wheeler wrecks that lead to injuries and property damage. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration collected data on hundreds of crashes in 17 states. They reconstructed crash scenes and reviewed reports to find why 18-wheeler wrecks happen. Here are some of the most common 18-wheeler wreck causes.
Driver Non-Performance Causes
Sometimes an 18-wheeler wreck happens when the driver doesn’t do what he or she is supposed to. Maybe the driver fell asleep at the wheel. He or she might have suffered a seizure or heart attack that caused physical impairment. Whether it was avoidable or not, they didn’t take action and an 18-wheeler wreck resulted.
Truck drivers work long hours, and they feel pressure from employers or retailers to push personal and regulatory boundaries. That might go on for months or years, and fatigue builds up. One mile melts into the next and drivers drift off to sleep and out of their lane. It’s one of the most common tractor-trailer wreck causes, and the consequences can be deadly.
Driver Recognition Issues
A driver can be awake and in control of their bodies and still fail to recognize danger in time to avoid it. They might be distracted by another passenger or looking at their cell phone. They could be looking at something else on or next to the roadway.
A loaded semi is up to six times larger than a car, both in size and weight. They have at least four times the horsepower and ten times the ft. lb of torque compared to the average car engine. Standard legal weight is 80,000 pounds, a weight of 40 tons.
They need 40 percent longer than cars to stop and have more than twice the average turning radius. Distracted driving is dangerous in any vehicle, but much more dangerous for 18-wheeler drivers.
Poor Driver Decisions
Truck drivers spend more hours on the road than other drivers, so they have more opportunities to make poor decisions. An 18-wheeler wreck might happen when they drive too fast for the road conditions, misjudge the speed of other vehicles around them or follow too closely.
Traffic violations that would be minor for a regular driver are much more serious for a truck driver. The decision to drive too fast or follow closely in heavy traffic can be disastrous.
Jackknifing happens when the trailer skids forward and ends up moving faster than the cab. It might happen because roads are wet or icy, but if a driver has to stop suddenly on dry roads it’s possible then as well. Jackknifing can often be traced to poor driver decisions that led to improper braking or the choice to operate faulty equipment.
Another poor driver decision is the choice to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There are strict federal regulations to try and keep it from happening, but unfortunately it still does.
Driver Action or Reaction
Sometimes semi drivers see a problem in the road ahead and the action they take makes things worse. If they panic, freeze, overcorrect or swerve into oncoming traffic, their action could lead to an 18-wheeler wreck.
When the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration compiled results on 141,000 large truck crashes, here are the most common reasons they found for 18-wheeler wrecks:
- Brake or tire problems
- Driver traveling too fast for road conditions
- Roadway problems
- Over-the-counter drug use
- Fatigue or inadequate surveillance
- Feeling pressured by an employer
- Illegal maneuvers
- Inattention or external distraction
- Following too closely
- A cargo shift
- Illegal drugs or alcohol
18-Wheeler Wreck Lawsuit
If you’ve been in a wreck with an 18-wheeler, you need a lawyer. Contact the personal injury attorneys at Monsour Law Firm for a free consultation today.