When driving on the highways and interstates, you often share the road with many commercial trucks. Truck drivers make an essential contribution to our economy by transporting goods around the country. However, truck accidents can cause severe property damage and physical injuries to motorists due to the significant size of the trucks themselves.
The proportions of these commercial vehicles make them susceptible to things like blind spots and tipping, leading to potentially hazardous situations. The consequences of 18-wheeler collisions can be devastating, especially if a driver is negligent regarding safety, lacks proper training or does not maintain their truck correctly.
The term blind spot refers to an area where it is nearly impossible for a driver to see anything located there. All vehicles have at least one position where it is difficult to see everything, but 18-wheelers have limited visibility in extensive areas.
Large semitrailer trucks have many significant blind spots, including:
- Along the right side of the truck
- Directly in front of the truck’s cab
- Right behind the trailer
- Below the driver’s window, extending down the side at an angle
Even when truck drivers check their blind spots, they may not see cars in these spaces. If you do not see the truck driver in the side mirror of a semi, the driver cannot see your vehicle, putting you in a possibly dangerous position.
Jackknifing is when a truck skids and loses control, causing the trailer to swing toward the cab, forming a 90-degree angle. This issue typically occurs when the truck driver brakes too fast or uses the engine brake on slick roads.
A jackknife accident can result in devastating and deadly consequences for both the truck driver and the other cars on the road. Because the trailer drifts into other lanes and blocks off parts of the road, it can cause accidents for multiple vehicles as people try to avoid hitting the truck. When an 18-wheeler jackknifes, it is also likely to roll over and spill cargo onto the highway, resulting in further obstacles and disaster.
This accident type can occur when a truck driver loses control of their vehicle. Rollovers often cause severe or fatal injuries for both the truck driver and the other motorists involved in the accident. The most common reason for an 18-wheeler rollover is a tire blowout. Other possible causes include:
- Exceeding the recommended speed limit for commercial trucks
- Turning too fast
- Over-correcting when drifting off the road
- Navigating steep declines or inclines
- Colliding with something on the road or driving up on a curb
- Dealing with an overloaded trailer
When a semi trailer truck collides with the front of a car, it often results in fatal injuries. Truck drivers spend long, tedious hours on the road and can easily become fatigued or distracted while driving. Situations that can lead to head-on crashes include:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Swerving into oncoming traffic due to loss of vehicle control, avoiding a hazard or navigating a difficult curve
- Falling asleep while driving or failing to pay attention because of drowsiness
- Driving while distracted by cell phones, instrument controls, GPS systems or other distractions
- Improper truck maintenance or brake failure
While rear-end collisions between two cars are not usually severe, a rear-end accident caused by a commercial truck can be disastrous. When an 18-wheeler hits the back of a smaller automobile, the significant weight of the rig smashes into the vehicle with immense force. This type of crash often causes severe damage to the car and catastrophic bodily injuries or fatalities.
Rear-end accidents are usually due to people driving while tired, intoxicated, distracted or otherwise impaired. However, because commercial trucks are large and weighty, truck drivers also need to be careful with how fast they drive and how closely they follow other cars. When a trucker goes too fast or follows another vehicle closely, it can make it impossible to stop the truck in time when traffic slows or halts suddenly. Responsible truck drivers should always leave a gap between themselves and the car in front of them to prevent these kinds of crashes.
This kind of truck accident is due to the difference in size between smaller vehicles and commercial trucks. The trailer of a commercial truck sits high off the ground. If a truck driver brakes unexpectedly, a smaller car or motorcycle may crash into it and get stuck under the trailer. Victims of underride accidents often do not survive the collision. Those that do survive usually have life-changing crush injuries, such as losing a limb or suffering paralysis.
Many of these collisions stem from the negligence of the truck driver or trucking company. Some trucker actions that could lead to underride accidents include:
- Driving significantly slower than the surrounding vehicles
- Operating a truck with broken or covered tail lights
- Failing to use reflective triangles to warn oncoming traffic of a stalled or broken-down rig
- Having ineffective underride guards on the trailer that do not provide adequate protection for other drivers
- Neglecting proper brake maintenance or driving with malfunctioning brake lights
This kind of accident happens when a driver fails to yield at an intersection or stop at a red light, causing one vehicle to crash into the side of another. This type of T-bone collision is especially hazardous when it involves a commercial truck.
If a trucker runs a red light, the length of the trailer increases the likelihood of a crash. When this kind of broadside impact occurs, the full force of the truck’s weight smashes into the side of the smaller automobile, causing severe damage to its occupants. Distracted driving is often at the root of side-impact accidents.
An 18-wheeler’s size and length require drivers to swing wide when making a right turn. Truckers must first steer left before making a right turn. If a driver is unaware of automobiles behind them or on the right, cars can become trapped as the truck turns.
If a truck driver fails to secure freight appropriately or loads the trailer incorrectly, the goods can fall out, causing dangerous debris for other motorists. Overloaded trucks may spill anything from boxes to produce to gasoline all over the roadways. Cars driving in the area may not be able to avoid running into the lost load or the truck. Sometimes, this type of accident causes multiple car pile ups as people try to evade crashing into the spilled cargo.
Experiencing a tire blowout is scary for any driver. This issue is particularly concerning when it happens with a commercial truck. A blowout can force the truck in unexpected directions, causing the driver to lose control and putting other vehicles in danger. A blowout also scatters pieces of tire out into the road in front of other cars, creating additional risks. Trucks spend significant time on the road, making it essential for truckers to check the condition of their tires frequently.
Get Help From a Legal Professional
If you have injuries or other damages from a truck accident, get in touch with an Indiana car accident attorney for assistance. At Hensley Legal Group, we are ready to help you understand your rights and support your case.
We dedicate our time to representing your interests. Call us today at (317) 779-2699 or reach out online to discuss your claim.