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What Causes a Semi Truck to Overturn?

Car accidents tend to result in much more serious injuries if the car rolls over during the crash. Semi truck accidents tend to cause more serious injuries because of the size of the vehicle.

So if you have an accident where a semi truck rolls over, the severity of victims’ injuries is only likely to get worse.

You’ve probably been stuck in a traffic jam on the highway, wondering what the hold-up was, and eventually crawled past an overturned semi. Maybe you’ve seen one on the news. Semi truck accidents are so big and so severe that it’s important for everyone, not just truck drivers, to know what causes them and how to avoid them.

So what causes a semi truck to overturn? There are five scenarios that typically cause this catastrophic type of semi truck accident.

1. Taking a Curve Too Fast

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The sheer height and weight of a commercial truck makes it difficult to drive. Commercial truck drivers need to move cautiously and understand that different rules apply to their vehicle than to a normal car.

Any driver can take a curve too quickly and lose control of their vehicle, potentially causing it to flip. But if a semi truck takes a turn too quickly, it’s nearly impossible for the driver to regain control and prevent the semi truck from overturning. Gravity works quickly, and the size and weight of the semi truck makes it easier for it to overturn.

2. Uneven Load Distribution

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It’s important for semi trucks to be loaded properly, not just to ensure an efficient trip delivering the most goods possible, but also to make sure an uneven load doesn’t cause a semi truck to overturn.

If a semi’s load shifts to one side, it affects the truck’s center of gravity and the ability of the driver to keep the truck upright. It’s difficult for drivers to compensate for a load that suddenly becomes unpredictable if cargo rolls from one side of the trailer to the other.

3. High Winds

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In severe weather, high winds can uproot trees, damage houses, and make it nearly impossible to drive. They can also cause semi trucks to flip over.

A semi truck with a heavy, evenly distributed load may be able to withstand high winds, but an empty semi truck would be more susceptible to possibly overturning. Even in moderate weather, you may have seen a semi truck with an empty trailer shift unpredictably in its lane due to the wind because it lacks a strong center of gravity. In high winds, that empty trailer would be all too easy to flip, causing the entire semi truck to overturn.

4. Distracted, Drowsy, or Drunk Driving

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If a truck driver is operating a commercial vehicle while impaired in some way, their behavior greatly increases the likelihood that the semi truck will overturn. A driver distracted by his or her cell phone may not see an upcoming curve or notice the way the wind is affecting the vehicle. A drowsy driver may fall asleep at the wheel and lose control of the semi truck altogether. A drunk driver would be too intoxicated to operate the vehicle correctly and may even steer the semi truck into a dangerous situation, such as steering the truck into oncoming traffic or off the road.

It’s important for truck drivers to be at their best when operating a semi truck to avoid causing the vehicle to overturn. Federal law mandates that semi truck drivers get a certain amount of time off to sleep between trips, and the same laws that punish distracted and drunk drivers of regular cars exist to punish distracted and drunk drivers of semi trucks. In fact, because truck drivers are on the job while driving, punishments for distracted, drowsy, or drunk driving may be more severe than for typical, noncommercial drivers.

5. Accidents

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If another vehicle collides with a semi truck, the driver may not be able to remain in control of the semi truck, causing the truck to overturn. Truck drivers may also cause their vehicle to overturn if they’re trying to avoid another car driving recklessly. That’s one reason why it’s important for everyone on the road to be aware of semi trucks and stay out of their blind spots so semi truck drivers don’t have to resort to dangerous maneuvers to avoid a collision and end up overturning their trucks instead.

Help from an Indiana Semi Truck Accident Attorney

If you have been injured in a semi truck accident through no fault of your own, Hensley Legal Group can help. Call us today or contact us online for a free consultation.