A “semi” trailer has no front wheels. Pulled by a tractor and cab, semis transport everything from food and mail to sand and gravel. They move people across the country and medical equipment to hospitals. America’s economy depends on semi-truck traffic — and their safety.
With over 50-feet long, semi-trucks roar down highways and lumber through city streets carrying up to 80,000 pounds, the FMSCA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) (2016-2017) reported an overall increase of 3 percent in big rig property damage incidents, a 5 percent jump in injury accidents, and a whopping 10 percent increase in fatal crashes.
Much research and effort go into reducing accidents, and some are simply avoidable.
5 common causes
- Making bad decisions — Most truck drivers are conscientious. But poor driver decisions are behind most semi-truck accidents. Considering the road, traffic, and weather conditions, some drivers simply drive too fast. They drive carelessly or recklessly. Others tailgate other vehicles, and still, others misjudge the speed of their truck in relationship to others.
- Missing signals — Many accidents are caused by driver inattention. They get distracted by things inside and outside their cabs. Truck drivers are as likely as car drivers to cause accidents because they text or call while driving. For whatever reason, they will miss stop signs and run through red lights. Car drivers can watch for reckless truck drivers only if they avoid texting and calling.
- Performing badly — Some drivers work when they shouldn’t because of illness and fatigue. Others have suffered seizures or cardiac events confusing them or causing them to lose control. Still, others drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Other drivers should remain alert for unusual truck behavior around them. Keller and Keller deal with the physical and emotional damage following semi accidents that often result from the drivers’ lack of sleep arising from their need to meet delivery deadlines.
- Driving problem vehicles — Semi accidents result from vehicle problems and poor maintenance. The problems include faulty brakes, steering failure, blown tires, and more. While truck owners are responsible, car drivers may want to stay away from obviously poorly maintained semis.
- Factoring other conditions — Drivers will run too fast for the traffic, road, and weather, and they may do this on unfamiliar roads. And, those trips might mean ascending and descending mountains. Roads may be under construction, or cargo may shift.
These causes happen in isolation or combination to cause injury and death among thousands every year.
Helping accident victims!
Indiana Traffic Safety Facts reported, “Commercial use vehicles (which include large trucks) comprised a larger proportion of vehicles involved in fatal collisions—approximately 10 percent in 2017.” Handling claims for damage, injury, and/or fatality, victims should know the semi-trailer is insured for big money if it is a fleet truck. If the driver is a “freelancer,” the insurance gets more complicated. So, if you’re involved in an accident with a semi, you should get help immediately.