Accidents involving semi-trucks often cause devastating injuries. Tractor-trailers weigh an average of 80,000 pounds, while passenger cars weigh only 3,000 pounds. When an accident occurs between a semi and a passenger vehicle, the weight of the large truck gets transferred to the other vehicle. That is why the damage is usually catastrophic.
In an effort to understand the reasons for serious truck accidents, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted the Large Truck Crash Causation Study. Researchers examined a national representative sample of the 120,000 truck crashes that took place between April 2001 and December 2003. Each crash studied in the sample involved at least one large truck and resulted in a fatality or injury.
A total of 963 crashes involving 1,123 large trucks and 959 motor vehicles that were not large trucks were examined. Among the 936 accidents, there were 249 fatalities and 1,654 injuries. Half of the crashes involved a large truck and passenger vehicle. Most of the large trucks in the sample, a total of 77 percent, were tractors pulling a single semi-trailer and 5 percent were carrying hazardous materials.
Causes of Large Truck Accidents
There were hundreds of associated factors that were collected for each vehicle in each accident. The top ten factors for large trucks and truck drivers included the following:
• Brake problems
• Traffic flow interruption (congestion, previous crash)
• Prescription drug use
• Traveling too fast for conditions
• Unfamiliarity with roadway
• Roadway problems
• Required to stop before crash (traffic control device, crosswalk)
• Over-the-counter drug use
• Inadequate surveillance
Researchers also looked into critical events that may have resulted in the accidents. The study defined a critical event as “the action or event that put the vehicle or vehicles on a course that made the collision unavoidable.” Three major types of critical events were assigned to large trucks, which included:
• Running out of travel lane, either into a different lane or off the road – 32 percent of the large trucks in the sample were assigned this critical event
• Loss of control of the vehicle as a result of traveling too fast for conditions, shifting of cargo, failure of vehicle systems, poor road conditions or other cause – 29 percent were assigned this event
• Rear end collision with another vehicle in the truck’s lane – 22 percent were assigned this critical event
Truck accidents are serious and often lead to life-threatening injuries. If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, contact Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas, LLP at (800) 741-1012 for Culpeper or (888) 907-2631 for Warrenton. We are experienced Virginia truck accident attorneys and can help you recover compensation for your injuries.