When standard-sized cars collide with fully loaded commercial vehicles, the smaller vehicles almost always lose the proverbial fight. Occupants of passenger cars and trucks, even after considering safety innovations like steel compartment cages, surrounding airbags and crumple zones, often suffer serious injuries or tragically lose their lives.
Fully loaded semi-trucks and tractor-trailers easily weigh 50, 60, 70,000 pounds or more. Even the largest SUVs and passenger trucks only weigh about 6,000 pounds, however, and cars are even lighter. The force produced by a semi moving at highway speed is simply overwhelming on a smaller vehicle.
Tragic news reports across Tennessee demonstrate the consequences of truck accidents. Though the cause of the crash can vary from accident to accident, there are some that occur more than others do.
Why do truck accidents happen?
Just like accidents involving smaller passenger vehicles, many truck collisions are the result of human error in one form or another.
- Drowsy driving: trucking companies often pay drivers by the mile or by the load instead of a straight hourly wage. This can lead cash-strapped truckers to balk when asked to take mandatory rest breaks required by federal hours-of-service regulations. These drivers will forge log books and forego much-needed rest in order to get to their destination sooner. As a result, they can literally fall asleep at the wheel, plowing into anything - vehicles, stationary objects, animals - in their path as they nod off.
- Speeding: much in the same way that some drivers will forego sleep in order to drop off or pick up a load faster, many truckers assume that speeding is the key to making more money. This simple act can be catastrophic in such a massive vehicle, though. Speed necessitates longer stopping time and decreased reaction ability. It increases the chances that accidents will occur, and lessens that likelihood that the trucker will be able to divert a crash.
- Lack of maintenance: in the interest of saving time or money, some trucking companies or independent owner-operators will skip necessary maintenance in order to keep the truck on the road. After all, when the truck is out of commission for repairs, it isn't making money. This is a huge mistake, though. If a fully loaded truck can't stop because of worn brakes, the results will be catastrophic.
Reach out for help
If you or someone you love was injured in an accident with a commercial truck, you have legal rights. To find out more about those rights, and about legal action to hold an at-fault trucker or trucking company accountable for the negligence that led to your injuries, reach out to an experienced local personal injury attorney.