We often hear someone say they were in a “minor accident” in their vehicle, but those accidents rarely involve a large truck. In fact, there really is no such thing as a minor truck accident. There are many reasons why truck accidents are so dangerous and often result in serious or fatal injuries.
Keep reading to learn more about what makes these accidents so much more devastating. The following facts will make you think twice before you take any chances around the trucks you encounter on the roads.
Size of the Truck
One of the main reasons that truck accidents are more dangerous than accidents involving other vehicles is that they are so much larger. The legal weight for a loaded big rig is 40 tons, or 18,000 pounds. In comparison, the average car weighs just 5,000 pounds. Even a large truck that does not have a load weighs much more than a car.
The average weight of the cab of an 18-wheeler is between 16,000 and 20,000 pounds, and even an empty trailer behind it can add several more tons. Not only are trucks heavier than cars, they are also longer, ranging from 45 to 65 feet. These size differences create a much higher risk for severe injury.
Ability to Maneuver
The weight and length of a truck also make it harder to maneuver on the roadway. The average car needs 25 feet to turn in a complete circle, while trucks need an area more than twice that large. This also means that a truck driver does not have the ability to swerve and avoid obstacles as easily as a car.
Sudden stops could result in the trailer on the truck jackknifing, something that occurs when the trailer skids and moves at an angle with the cab, creating a V-shape. Should this occur, not only is the truck in danger, but any vehicle around the truck is also in danger.
Long Stopping Distances
A truck must follow the laws of physics. This means the larger the object, the longer it will take to stop. If a vehicle slams on the brakes in front of a truck, the larger vehicle will need much more time to come to a complete stop than the car will. It takes a car traveling 65 miles per hour 300 feet to stop. An 18-wheeler traveling 65 miles per hour will take 520 feet to stop.
Because trucks are so large, there may also be a bit of a lag between when the driver sees the obstacle and when he can get the brake pedal pressed. It then takes time for the brake signal to reach all the wheels on the truck, further slowing how quickly the truck can come to a stop.
Who Is More at Fault in Truck Accidents?
There are differences of opinion on whether truck or car drivers cause more accidents. According to a report issued by the American Trucking Association, 80 percent of truck accidents are the fault of the driver of the car. However, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration claims that car drivers cause around 45 percent of crashes.
Keep in mind that even what appears to be a minor accident could result in serious injuries that aren’t apparent until later on. If you are asking “Should I hire a truck accident lawyer for a minor accident involving a big truck?” the answer is yes. If you settle your case with the trucking company’s insurers directly, you risk settling for less than you’ll need to cover your damages.