Whether you refer to them as tractor trailers, semi-trucks, big rigs, eighteen-wheelers, or perhaps even lorries (if you're British), semi-trailer trucks are an everyday sight on roads and highways around the world, with approximately 2 million tractor trailers currently in service in the United States alone, being driven by roughly 3.5 million certified truck drivers. Semi-trucks are one of the main ways that goods are transported and shipped in America, and chances are that the overwhelming majority of the things you own have been in the trailer of a big rig at some point before you acquired them.
Considering the sheer number of eighteen-wheelers on the road, it is little coincidence that there are many semi-trailer truck accidents every year, and sadly, due to their massive size, injuries stemming from these accidents are often catastrophic, specifically for the drivers and passengers of the much smaller cars/motorcycles involved (and pedestrians). According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, "of the approximately 411,000 police-reported crashes involving large trucks in 2014, 3,424 (1 percent) resulted in at least one fatality, and 82,000 (20 percent) resulted in at least one nonfatal injury."
Causes of Tractor Trailer Accidents
There are several major reasons why semi-trucks are particularly susceptible to crashes. Based on information from the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety and HG.org, these are the top reasons:
Size/Braking Ability: Trucks often weigh 20-30 times as much as passenger cars, which can allow them to do serious damage in an accident. Also, loaded tractor trailers take 20-40 percent farther than cars to stop, which can lead to accidents when the semi doesn't have sufficient time or space to brake in the event of an emergency.
Driver Fatigue: Even though professional drivers have federally-mandated limits set on the number of hours they can be on the road without breaks, surveys indicate that many drivers violate the regulations and work longer than permitted to meet deadlines. Overworked and sleepy drivers cause many more accidents than well-rested drivers.
Improper Maintenance: Not all trucking companies keep their fleets up to the latest safety codes, and older trucks in disrepair are much more dangerous on the road than new trucks.
Distracted Driving: Distracted driving is, of course, an issue for all drivers, and is not limited to professional truck drivers; however, since truck drivers have to communicate via radio frequently, and input GPS coordinates, they encounter additional situations that might end in distracted driving. Drivers with deadlines often eat and drink while driving to save time, which keeps focus off of the road ahead.
Driver Inexperience: Driving a semi-trailer truck is much more complicated than driving a standard passenger vehicle, due to their size, weight, and lack of maneuverability, and despite rigorous training, newer drivers may not be ready for all of the complexities that come with big rig driving.
Improper Loading: How cargo is loaded into the semi's trailer is important as well. Improperly loaded cargo can shift the truck's weight in odd ways, which can lead to further reductions in overall maneuverability and even jack-knifing on turns.
Daytona Beach Tractor Trailer Accident Attorneys
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a tractor trailer, and you believe that there was negligence on the part of the driver or their employer, you need to discuss your situation with an experienced tractor trailer accident attorney as soon as possible. Please fill out our free online case evaluation or call our Daytona Beach office at 386-777-7777 to schedule an appointment today.