With the growth in the auto industry, the number of accidents is also increasing. Roads are getting congested by the day, and drivers are roaming around in circles searching for a vacant parking spot. Besides cars crashing into each other, commercial truck and semi-truck accidents are also on the rise.

Studies have found that over 168,000 commercial truck accidents take place every year on average. Out of these, 3% result in fatalities, and 32% end up causing severe injuries. Can car accidents have a similar aftermath? Yes, but that’s not the usual case.

To help you understand better, this article will focus on what makes truck accidents more deadly/dangerous than car accidents.

Consequences of Truck vs. Car Accidents

One only needs to stay up-to-date with the news to understand how deadly truck accidents can be. For instance – a truck accident involving ‘multiple vehicles’ in Illinois led to the deaths of multiple passengers (five in total). Not only that but the accident area’s residents had to be evacuated due to an ammonia leakage.

The situation was similar when a highway crash between a truck and a bus in Manitoba led to the deaths of 15 people. Even when such accidents do not cause fatalities, they can severely reduce the victim’s quality of life due to serious injuries. These may include –

  • Head and brain injuries – may result from direct or indirect trauma to the head, causing nausea, vision problems, and cognitive difficulties.
  • Lacerations – are caused by forceful impact from falling debris or sharp objects. They lead to deep cuts and tears in the skin.
  • Back and neck injuries – these may include dislocation of discs in the spine. Given how critical the back and neck region is, victims often find it challenging to resume daily activities.
  • Severe burns – may result if the truck crash had flammable cargo involved, including gasoline and petroleum products.
  • Internal injuries – are caused by powerful blunt trauma due to bleeding of organs like kidneys, pancreas, spleen, etc.
  • Broken ribs and bones – happen due to the substantial forces involved in a truck accident. Bones may break in the fingers, toes, hands, legs, etc.
  • Paraplegia and spinal cord injuries – occur when the spinal cord’s delicate tissues are damaged. The victim may experience paralysis of the limbs or the entire body.

Besides such traumatic physical injuries, TorHoerman Law states that truck accidents often involve complex lawsuits. This is mainly because multiple parties are at fault, which makes the legal process long-drawn.

Let’s understand this with the help of an example – one US city that has earned the title of being the most dangerous is St. Louis. A major reason for this is commercial truck accidents that are commonplace in this logistics hub.

When an unfortunate incident occurs, the victim will have to hire a St. Louis truck accident attorney to dodge clever insurance company tactics and complex legal proceedings. The process will involve a detailed evaluation of the logs, gathering of evidence, and careful assessment of each liable party.

Without a reliable lawyer, this may come as an additional (emotional) strain, over and above the physical injuries.

Why Truck Accidents Are So Dangerous

Now that we’ve touched upon the physical, mental, and legal consequences of truck accidents, let’s discuss what factors make these accidents so dangerous.

Size and Weight

The number one reason behind the scare of truck accidents is the sheer size and weight of big rigs. Compared to average cars, 18-wheeler trucks and trailers weigh 20 to 30 times more. They are also three to four times larger in size.

This alone carries a variety of risks. Commercial trucks and trailers exert greater force during a collision. Also, they can accelerate pretty quickly when going downhill (making it difficult for the driver to stop at short notice). This raises the possibility of severe damage and injuries.

Blind Spots

All motorists are advised to maintain adequate distance from a truck’s ‘blind spots.’ What are these? Also known as ‘no-zones,’ blind spots are what make it difficult for the truck driver to see other vehicles. These exist on the truck’s front, behind, and both sides.

A commercial truck’s blind spots are so enormous that the burden of safety lies on other drivers in the vicinity. When they fail to keep their distance from the blind spots, the two vehicles may easily collide.

Driver Fatigue

The problem of overworked drivers is not uncommon in the trucking industry. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has certain regulations governing this aspect. It states that no driver must operate their vehicle if they are too sick or tired.

The FMCSA also established the hours-of-service safety regulations so that truck drivers do not have to struggle with fatigue. In practice, the issue persists and is often the cause of an accident. When the driver is tired, their reaction time to an oncoming vehicle slows down. Moreover, they’re less alert and may easily lose focus on the road.

Longer Stopping Distance

Due to their weight and size, commercial truck and trailer drivers must be mindful of longer stopping distances. In other words, if a truck driver wants to stop their vehicle suddenly (under short notice), they are generally not able to do so.

This inevitably leads to a collision. Furthermore, large vehicles like trucks have a higher center of gravity. This increases the risk of tipping over while trying to stop the vehicle suddenly.

Cargo Shifts

Another reason why truck accidents are highly dangerous is the possibility of frequent cargo shifts. Trucks often act as carriers for heavy cargo (to and from towns and cities). Cargo loading companies need to secure the freight properly.

When the cargo is not secured well, it becomes imbalanced on the road and may tip over. This can lead to a serious accident or severe injuries for passengers in surrounding vehicles.

As we have mentioned in this article, big rigs come with big responsibilities and risks. The most common accidents that commercial trucks are a part of include jackknifing, rollovers, T-bones, under-rides, and rear-end collisions.

Such accidents can only be avoided when every driver on the road does their bit. In other words, truck drivers must refrain from driving when unwell or tired. Other motorists should mind a truck’s blind spots, and all must avoid distractions on the road.

Finally, cargo companies must secure their consignment properly, and trucking companies must prioritize driver training and safety. These measures should help reduce the number of road accidents that involve a big rig.