Fatalities caused by crashes involving semitrucks have risen 30% over the last decade, and eight out of every 10 victims are either passenger car occupants, cyclists or pedestrians. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports 4,102 people died in large truck accidents in 2017.
Semitrucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded and are about 25 times heavier than the average passenger car. Loaded 18-wheelers take 20% to 40% more roadway to stop, or more when roads are icy or wet or if trucks have poorly maintained brakes.
Occupants of passenger cars are the most common victims
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports when fatal crashes only involve a big rig and a passenger car, 97% of those killed are in the passenger vehicle. The agency breaks down semitruck-related fatalities for 2017:
- 68%: Drivers and occupants of passenger vehicles
- 17%: Semitruck drivers and occupants
- 14%: Motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians
Truck driver mistakes often lead to crashes
While passenger vehicle drivers can cause crashes, conditions and behaviors of truck drivers are also significant contributing factors, such as:
- Truck driver fatigue
- Inadequate training
- Incentives encouraging drivers to drive faster and work longer hours
- Lack of regard for safety procedures
- Poorly maintained trucks
Take precautions while sharing the road with semitrucks
When you encounter an 18-wheeler on the road, it’s crucial to remember that truck drivers have limited visibility, maneuvering and braking abilities. Follow safe driving habits, such as:
- Avoiding blind spots behind and next to semitrucks where the driver has limited or no visibility
- Do not change lanes abruptly in front of a truck
- Do not attempt to pass a truck on the right when it is making a right turn
- Be careful in misjudging an oncoming truck’s speed when making a left turn
- Do not merge into traffic right in front of a truck
Seek compensation for injuries caused by careless drivers
Crashes involving semitrucks kill thousands and injured tens of thousands of people each year. If you are injured, you face massive medical bills, lost wages and related costs. An experienced personal injury attorney here in Kentucky can help you recover the compensation you deserve if you are injured as a result of someone else’s negligence.