Fatal commercial truck accidents, unfortunately, happen much more often than we may think. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), in 2018 a total of 4,136 people died due to being involved in accidents with large semi trucks or 18-wheelers. Moreover, as of 2018 the number of fatalities resulting from large truck accidents had risen 31% since 2009, when fatalities were at their lowest. With this information in mind, it’s important to review the deadly statistics that are often associated with commercial truck accidents, as well as how drivers can successfully avoid them.
Commercial Truck Accident Fatalities
Accidents involving commercial trucks can be incredibly deadly; and, the victims that do survive are often left with serious injuries that can have lifelong effects. According to IIHS, large truck accident deaths occur most often to those driving or riding in passenger cars, mainly because of their vulnerability. Because commercial trucks can weigh up to 40 tons, they are much less likely to be able to safely make abrupt stops if needed in order to avoid crashing into other vehicles. For instance, loaded tractor-trailers can take up to a 40% greater distance to come to a complete stop than standard passenger vehicles.
Data from IIHS on large truck fatalities in 2018 revealed 96% of those killed in a two-vehicle accident were those in passenger vehicles. In addition, 11% of all motor vehicle crash deaths that year involved large commercial trucks. Over half – or 52% – of those deaths occurred on major roads rather than interstates and freeways, while 33% occurred on freeways and 14% happened on minor roadways.
Of the passenger vehicles struck during this time period, 31% were hit head on by a truck, while another 24% were side-struck by a truck. Closely following, 23% of passenger vehicles struck the rear of the truck.
Semi truck deaths don’t just happen to passenger vehicle occupants either, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that trucker deaths in 2018 also reached their highest level in 30 years. Approximately 885 large truck occupants died in 2018 – the highest recorded number of trucker deaths since 1988.
How to Avoid a Commercial Truck Accident
Because accidents with commercial trucks are so deadly, it’s important for drivers to know how to safely avoid being involved in one. Some of the most common ways commercial truck accidents can be avoided include:
Avoiding Blind Spots
Because commercial trucks have many more blind spots than other vehicles, it’s important to stay out of truckers’ blind spots, including 20 feet in front of the truck, 30 feet behind the truck, and the lane on the driver’s side going back half the length of the trailer. An easy way to determine whether or not your vehicle is in a truck’s blind spot is whether or not the truck’s side mirrors are visible. If they are not, it’s likely the trucker cannot readily see those around them.
Passing With Caution
It’s important to always use caution when passing a commercial truck. Large trucks cannot stop as quickly or maneuver as easily as other vehicles, so truck drivers will need ample time to react and adjust their speed accordingly. Because of this, passenger vehicle drivers should avoid passing a truck when going up or downhill as this may naturally increase or decrease speed. It’s important to only pass a commercial truck when it is easy to see others on the road. When a truck passes a passenger car, the vehicle should stay to the right hand side of the road, slowing down to give the truck driver more space to pass safely.
Allowing for Plenty of Space
Drivers of passenger vehicles should avoid being near a truck for too long. Those who drive close to a truck are at an increased risk of commercial truck accidents caused by factors like tire blowouts, sudden braking, and high winds – all of which can lead to a potential rollover accident. In addition, drivers should maintain a safe following distance behind a commercial truck, allowing for at least one full car-length of space in between the vehicles.
Distracted driving places others on the road at an increased risk of harm. It’s important that drivers avoid any activities that may take their mind, hands, and/or eyes off the road. This includes using smartphones, eating food, or talking with other passengers.
Houston Trucking Accident Attorneys
Unfortunately, accidents involving commercial trucks happen far too often. These incidents cause catastrophic injuries that often result in the death of others. When the unexpected happens, you need the assistance of an experienced Houston truck accident attorney to hold the negligent parties accountable. At Ramsey Law Group, we will maximize your recovery following an accident with a commercial truck. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your needs.