What Are Common Causes of Semi Truck Accidents?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that in 2019, 5,005 people died in crashes in the U.S. with large trucks. The NHTSA also found that 81 percent of fatal crashes involved large trucks and multiple-vehicle crashes.
A semi truck accident can have various causes. By understanding the causes of wrecks involving large trucks, drivers may be better able to spot warning signs of risk and take steps to avoid collisions. But if you suffer injuries in a wreck with a semi truck, contact the Las Vegas personal injury lawyer at The Schnitzer Law Firm by clicking the link below.
Are Semi-truck Crashes Preventable?
Estimates predict that by 2030, collisions involving large trucks will be the USA’s fifth most prominent cause of death. By understanding some common causes of semi-truck wrecks, motorists can become safer, more responsible drivers. One preventable cause of vehicle crashes is driving under the influence.
When we hear about Las Vegas traffic accidents involving large trucks, we may be inclined to think the semi driver was responsible. But DUI by the passenger vehicle driver was the suspected cause of Las Vegas’s 73rd traffic-related fatality involving a 2003 Ford Escape and a Kenworth T.T. semi-truck and trailer.
Other common reasons for a semi truck accident caused by a passenger vehicle include:
- Driving in a truck’s blind spots, called “No-Zones”
- Changing lanes quickly in front of a truck
- Driving between large trucks
- And more
Semi trucks take considerably farther to come to a complete stop than passenger vehicles. A passenger vehicle going 65 mph takes about 316 feet to halt after the driver becomes aware of the need to stop. A semi truck takes about 525 feet to reach a complete stop.
Some causes of accidents by truck drivers, include:
Speeding and overtaking vehicles: Time schedules can be stressful for truckers and be the reason for exceeding speed limits.
- Driver Fatigue: Trucking is one of the most regulated industries because many truck collisions directly result from reckless or negligent behaviors. Avoiding these behaviors can prevent many accidents from happening altogether.
- Distracted Driving: Truck drivers are like everyone. Most probably listen to music, consume food, and use their cell phones when driving. These are common driving distractions for all drivers.
- Rear-End Crashes: A rear-end crash is one of the deadliest semi truck accidents. Occupants in a car struck by a semi are at high risk for injuries when involved in a rear-end crash and backseat passengers even more.
Consider this next time you are driving and start to text. Driving 55 miles per hour and sending or reading a text is like going the length of a football field with your eyes closed.
Distracted Driving is Not Driving
Driving is a full-time job, and it would help if you drove on purpose when you are behind the wheel of a car or a semi-truck. But it does seem that distractions to driving are multiplying. Now, you can even have a car that drives itself, leaving you to attend to more distractions.
Three basic types of distractions that can affect passenger and semi truck drivers alike are:
1. Visual: Any activity that leads you to take your eyes off the road while driving is a visual distraction.
2. Manual: Any activity that leads you to take your hands off the steering wheel is a manual distraction.
3. Cognitive: Any activity that leads to you taking your mind off driving is a cognitive or mental distraction.
Smartphones provide the best example of combining all types of distractions into one event. Texting can be a visual, manual, and cognitive distraction. It is, perhaps, the most dangerous activity a driver can engage in when driving a motor vehicle. According to the NHTSA, in 2019, 3,142 people lost their lives in crashes involving distracted drivers.
Texting and driving significantly increases the odds of an accident and are against the law in most states. Only Missouri and Montana allow texting and driving; in Nevada, though, handheld cell phone use is prohibited.
Tailgating Is Always Dangerous
In 1967, film actress Jayne Mansfield was killed when the 1966 Buick Electra rear-ended a semi-truck. Consequently, the underride bar on the back of truck trailers is called a Mansfield Bar. They are designed to keep cars from propelling underneath tractor-trailers in front-end collisions to prevent deaths like that of Mansfield. Mansfield Bars are more effective when a vehicle strikes it squarely in the middle — less effective when a car hits only a portion of the guard.
Semi truck crash fatalities often involve a smaller vehicle following too close behind the truck. Sudden stopping or slowing by the large truck can leave the rear driver with too little time to avoid colliding with the truck’s rear.
Tailgating a semi truck usually puts you in a blind zone for the trucker. You may have seen a sign on trailers: “If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you.” Stay out of blind zones by maintaining a safe following distance.
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