Tractor-Trailer Crashes Continue to Climb: Staying Safe on the Road

Though any traffic crash can be dangerous, those involving tractor-trailers and other large trucks are particularly dangerous. Small passenger cars weigh an average of about 4,000 pounds, while a full tractor-trailer in the U.S. has a maximum weight of 80,000 pounds spread over 18 wheels. Needless to say, when a passenger vehicle and a truck 20 times its weight collide, passenger vehicle occupants are at a heightened risk of being seriously injured or killed.

According to data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), large truck crash fatalities reached its highest level in 29 years in 2017, even while overall traffic deaths declined. Now, preliminary data for 2018 indicates that truck-related fatalities are expected to have increased by another three percent from 2017 to 2018.

Ohio ranks at the top of the list among states for its number of traffic fatalities involving large trucks. Between 2014 and 2016, Ohio was one of 10 states that accounted for over 50 percent of the nation’s fatal large truck accidents. Joining it in the top 10 were California, Texas, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, Georgia, and North Carolina.

Leading Causes of Tractor-Trailer Accidents

Most of the time, individuals killed in commercial vehicle accidents are occupants of passenger cars. Over 70 percent of commercial vehicle fatalities in 2017 were individuals in vehicles other than the truck, and another 10 percent were pedestrians or cyclists. Only 841 of the 4,761 large truck accident fatalities were occupants of the involved semi-tractor trailer.

Common causes of serious or fatal semi-truck wrecks include:

  • Speeding
  • Aggressive driving, such as speeding or tailgating
  • Driver fatigue
  • Distracted driving, such as using a cell phone, eating, using GPS or other apps.
  • Driving under the influence
  • Failing to abide by traffic signs or signals

Safety Tips for Traveling Past Tractor-Trailers

As the driver of a passenger vehicle, you and your occupants are particularly vulnerable to serious injury or death in the event of a collision involving a tractor-trailer. With that in mind, there are some things you can do to decrease the likelihood that you will get into a dangerous wreck:

  • Do not drive in a trucker’s blind spots. Tractor-trailers have large blind spots on all four sides, so a safe distance is needed to stay visible.
  • Only pass truckers when you are able to see the driver in their vehicle’s mirror. Once you pass, do not switch into the tractor-trailer’s lane until it is clearly visible in your rearview mirror.
    Understand that trucks need extra room to turn, and that it is always a bad idea to squeeze by a truck without using a turn signal.
  • Do not cut off trucks. It takes longer for large vehicles to stop, so cutting it too close could trigger a deadly crash.

If you or a loved one was involved in a traffic crash involving a tractor-trailer, contact the attorneys at Murray & Murray Co., L.P.A. in Sandusky, Ohio today for exemplary legal service.