Types of Tractor-Trailer and Trucking Accidents
When commercial drivers make mistakes, fail to obey traffic laws, or drive while under the influence, we suffer the consequences. Truck accidents are responsible for 4,000 deaths each year, making commercial vehicles one of the biggest dangers on America’s roadways. If you are injured in a truck accident, we’re here to help.
This chart from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows the breakdown of fatalities in large-truck crashes.
A head-on collision occurs when the front end of a truck collides with the front end of another vehicle. If a driver falls asleep and ends up on the wrong side of the road, he’s likely to cause a head-on collision.
This type of accident often results in devastating injuries and fatalities, especially if the commercial truck hits a small sedan or coupe.
Jackknifing is a type of accident that occurs when a truck driver brakes quickly, causing the truck’s trailer to swing outward. This type of accident gets its name from the angle formed by the trailer and the cab. Additional facts:
- Wet Roads – It’s more common for jackknifing to occur when the roads are slick.
- Increased Speed – “A 10 mph increase in the posted speed limit increases the odds of a jackknife by 49 percent for combination trucks.”
- Poor Lighting Conditions -“Poor lighting conditions increase the odds of a jackknife by 43 percent.”
- Bad Weather – “In a single-vehicle fatal crash, the odds of a jackknife are 3.22 times higher during adverse weather conditions.”
- Curvy Roadway -“The odds of a jackknife on a curved roadway are 86 percent higher than the odds of a jackknife on a straight roadway.”
- Increased Length Of The Truck -“A 10 percent increase in the total length of the truck corresponds to an increase of 14 percent in the odds of a jackknife for combination trucks.”
Brake Failure Accidents
If a truck’s brakes fail while the truck is in motion, the driver may not be able to stop in time to prevent an accident. Brake failure can occur if the trucking company does not properly maintain its vehicles, or if the truck’s driver does not complete daily vehicle inspections as required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act (FMCSA). Another potential cause of brake failure is an imbalance in the truck’s braking system. A common cause of brake imbalance is failure to adjust brake components properly.
Rear-end accidents are especially dangerous because commercial trucks weigh so much more than other vehicles that their impact crushes the receiving vehicle. Most rear-end accidents are because a truck driver’s negligence in one of these ways:
- Following Too Closely
- Distracted Driving
- Impaired Driving
- Improper Lane Change
T-bone accidents, also called side-impact collisions, occur when a truck driver strikes the side of a vehicle rather than the front or back of a vehicle. If a truck crashes into the front or back of your vehicle, you at least have the bumper or engine compartment to protect you. That’s not the case with T-bone collisions. If a truck hits the side of your car, all you really have for protection is your door. In the best-case scenario, the truck is going slow enough that you only sustain minor injuries. If the truck is going fast enough, it can roll your car over, causing severe injuries. This type of accident often occurs due to failure to yield, reckless driving, driving while intoxicated, or running red lights. T-bone collisions also occur when truck drivers turn across several lanes of traffic.
If a truck driver loses control and his truck starts sliding sideways, the truck is likely to roll over. Many rollover accidents are preventable if drivers and trucking companies follow federal and state regulations. For example, obeying speeding laws makes it less likely that a truck will roll over while the driver is negotiating a curve. Distracted driving, speeding, driving under the influence, and reckless behavior also cause rollover accidents.
Underride accidents occur when a truck driver slams on the brakes suddenly, causing a smaller vehicle to go right under the truck’s rear trailer. This type of accident is extremely dangerous because the top of your car is not meant to withstand so much force. Even if your vehicle did well in front crash testing, there’s a strong chance the top of the vehicle will be crushed in an underride accident.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act (FMCSR § 392.9) and Georgia law (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-248.1) require drivers to inspect their loads and ensure all cargo is secure. If cargo is not secured properly, there is a risk of it falling off the truck and obstructing the roadway. There is also a risk that the cargo will shift and throw the vehicle off balance, making it difficult for the driver to make turns or negotiate curves.
Unsecured cargo can therefore put other vehicles at risk in two ways: first, loose cargo could strike another vehicle, and second, shifting cargo could cause the truck driver to lose control and cause the truck to strike another vehicle.
If you’ve ever had a tire blowout, you know how difficult it is to maintain control over your vehicle. Just imagine trying to control a truck weighing 40,000 or 60,000 pounds. This type of accident often causes significant damage because the driver does not have control over the truck which leads to a massive crushing impact. High speed + loss of control + heavy machine = devastating consequences.
The rules under which large commercial trucks operate, including the Commercial Driver’s License Manual and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, set forth specific rules about how large trucks should complete turns without putting other drivers at risk. For instance, when making a right-hand turn, a large truck should not veer left before beginning the turn, because that could allow other drivers to become trapped on the truck’s right, between the truck and curb. Instead, the truck should swing into the far lane of the road that it is turning onto.
Responsible truck drivers also know how to make a safe left turn. The first rule is clearance. Commercial truck operators must look 12 to 15 seconds down the road, because their trucks move slower and are harder to stop than other vehicles. So before a commercial truck turns left, its driver must make sure that it has 12 to 15 seconds of clearance.
Box Truck Accidents
Flatbed Truck Accidents
The purpose of the tow truck is to move a damaged or nonworking vehicle. The two most common types of tow trucks are the flat bed and the wheel lift, seen below. For the most part they all have the same equipment. A flatbed truck is a truck that does not have sides or walls where the cargo—like a towed car—is stored.
When investigating a flatbed truck accident, all factors need to be considered.
- Was the driver properly trained?
- Was the driver insured by the parent company?
- Was the driver’s driving history considered before hiring?
- Was the truck cared for and maintained?
- Were the correct precautions taken when loading and transporting the cargo?
- Was the driver of the tow truck under the influence of alcohol or drugs?
- Was the driver speeding or driving recklessly?
Box trucks are often used in deliveries around town. These drivers are experienced but are put under immense pressure to deliver on time and on route. Even though truck companies want their trucks to keep moving and earning money for the company owners, tired or fatigued drivers put other people at risk. For that reason, there are “Hours of Service” rules that limit how long a truck driver can work without taking a break. These rules help keep other drivers on the road safe from exhausted, over-worked truck drivers.
Many other factors can contribute to a collision with a box truck. The driver could be drunk or impaired, the driver could be distracted by a navigation device or a CB radio, or the truck company could be pressing the driver too hard to make too many deliveries in too little time.
Two common box truck accidents are blind spot accidents and rollover accidents.
A blind spot accident occurs when the box truck cannot see the vehicle that is traveling beside it. When the driver doesn’t see the vehicle in their rear quarter section or blind spot, the truck may change lanes improperly, causing a collision.
A rollover accident occurs when a box truck turns over. This type of accident happens most often when taking a turn too fast or when the driver doesn’t have enough experience to be driving the truck in the first place.
Cement Truck Accidents
Cement trucks vary in weight greatly depending on whether it is carrying cement or not. Normal concrete weighs about 4,000 lb. per cubic yard. Lightweight concrete weighs about 3,000 lb. per cubic yard. If a truck is carrying 10 cubic yards, then the weight of the concrete is approximately 40,000 lbs. The truck will weigh approximately 26,000 lbs. for a total of 66,000 lb. This immense weight can cause a catastrophic collision with serious injuries.
If you were hurt in a collision with a cement truck, both the driver and the cement truck company can usually be held responsible.
The National Highway Safety Traffic Association reports that more than 200 deaths occur each year because of bus accidents. Even if the accident is not deadly, it can still cause serious injury for the passengers of the bus and the vehicle it collided with. Investigating a bus accident can lead to several responsible parties who are at fault for the accident:
- The bus driver
- Government entities (if a school or public transportation bus)
- The bus owner
- The bus management company
- Other drivers involved in the collision
Garbage Truck Accidents
Garbage trucks are seen every day on the roads and in neighborhoods. Pedestrians and cars are sometimes victims of a garbage truck accident. There are several different kinds of garbage trucks.
- Side Loaders
- Front Loaders
- Grapple Trucks
- Pneumatic Collection
- Rear Loaders
Built with heavy frames and lugging heavy hydraulic equipment built to crush trash, garbage trucks are designed with large blind spots. Blind spots can affect the garbage truck driver’s vision which can adversely affect the driver’s ability to see innocent pedestrians.
Dump Truck Accidents
A dump truck accident can happen at construction site or on the highway while driving to or from an active construction site. A 5-axle dump truck can weigh over 65,000 pounds. That means that even in a low speed accident, a dump truck can cause serious damage. Bumpers on dump trucks may be mounted unusually high off the ground or may be absent altogether. That gives the dump truck additional ground clearance, but if the dump truck collides with another vehicle, that other vehicle is at risk of sliding underneath—or “underriding”—the dump truck.