The Epidemic of Truck Accidents: Will You Be a Statistic?
Did you know that road crashes are expected to become the fifth leading cause of death in the United States by 2030? That’s a pretty sobering statistic. Among the deaths in 2014, 3,660 were caused by a collision with a big truck or bus. Sixty-eight percent of the fatalities were passengers in motor vehicles, while 15 percent were bicyclists, motorcyclists or pedestrians.
When we say big trucks, we mean 18-wheelers, cement trucks, coal trucks, buses and the like. Anyway, you get the picture. However, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 72 percent of truck accidents resulting in fatalities in 2014 involved tractor-trailers. With 15.5 million trucks on the road and out of that figure, two million tractor-trailers out of a total of 200 million licensed drivers, the odds point to tractor-trailers as some of the most dangerous vehicles on the road.
Vehicular Weight and Long Stopping Distance Are Causes of Truck Accidents
There are numerous causes of truck accidents, and knowing what they are can help explain the incidence of road crashes. One is the weight and stopping distance of a big truck. The weight of your average motor vehicle is about 2.5 tons, while a tractor-trailer can weigh 40 tons.
It takes much longer to stop a tractor-trailer than a motor vehicle. For example, if a vehicle and a tractor-trailer are both driving at 40 mph and start braking at the same moment, the tractor-trailer will travel 45 feet further before coming to a complete stop.
While a passenger car needs about 306 feet to stop after braking, a tractor-trailer needs 525 feet. That’s about the length of 1.5 football fields. Speed is also an important factor when applying the brakes. The faster a vehicle is traveling, the longer it takes to stop. Because of the size and weight of a big truck, fatalities and injuries are common.
Truck Accident Statistics Show a High Incidence of Fatalities
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration publishes accident statistics that include a separate category for large trucks. Statistics from 2014 show an increase of fatalities from truck accidents from one year earlier, and over half of those accidents involved a rollover. Two-vehicle accidents accounted for 61 percent of accidents, while accidents that involved multiple vehicles were at 21 percent.
While most crashes have more than one contributing factor, vehicle failure, following too close, overcompensating while steering evasively, fatigue or falling asleep at the wheel and physical impairment were major contributing factors. Vehicle, driver and environmental factors may have contributed to the accidents also, although they did not always contribute to the crash.
According to the Large Truck Crash Causation Study conducted for the FMCSA:
- Twenty-seven percent of trucks were found to have brake problems
- Nineteen percent of drivers were unfamiliar with the route
- 10 percent of truck drivers felt under pressure
- Seven percent were overly tired
- Three percent experienced tire problems
- Five percent were driving in an aggressive manner
- One percent were ill
- 0.4 percent were under the influence of illegal substances
- 0.3 percent had been consuming alcohol
The following chart shows the top reasons by percentage for truck crashes. Problems associated with drugs and alcohol were statistically insignificant.
Semi-truck Accident Statistics: Settlements in the Billions
When people are injured or die as the result of an accident that is the fault of a large truck, it can result in large settlements. Semi-truck accidents cost $20 billion per year in accident settlements with about half of that amount awarded to injured victims who suffered a diminished or lost quality of life.
The FMCSA requires all carriers to be insured. Trucks that haul freight must carry between $750 thousand and $5 million in insurance coverage. The amount of coverage a trucker must carry depends on what is being hauled. However, this insurance coverage is not coverage per person, but per incident.
The weight of truck and the material that is hauled determines the coverage. For instance, carriers that weigh under 10,001 pounds and haul non-hazardous freight have to be insured for $300 thousand.
Speeding around a curve causes many accidents.
When it comes to compensation for accident injuries and deaths caused by large trucks, the amount compensated is multiplied by the thousands of crashes each year. However, the average cost is higher than $3 million for a crash that results in fatalities. Awards for accidents that result in an injury can be lower but depend on the injury and costs associated with it.
How Truck Accident Injuries Are Calculated
Those who have been injured as a result of an at-fault truck driver or trucking company can face enormous medical bills, an extended recovery period that is unpredictable in length and may even face a drastic life change. In addition, lost time from work or the inability to go back to work can compound expenses and result in a life different from what the person experienced before the accident.
Rehabilitation can be long and arduous.
What Is Included in the Calculated Semi-truck Accident Damages?
Truck accident attorneys at Isaacs & Isaacs include all medical expenses, including parking and gasoline for trips to and from your medical treatment, prescription and other medical costs, lost time from work, and future expenses associated with your accident. That way, you can continue with your life without worrying about your expenses.
In addition, being involved in an accident can have emotional and psychological consequences that can stay with an injured person for a long time, causing nightmares or sleepless nights, depression and anxiety. Some accidents can be so traumatic for the individual that he or she develops symptoms of PTSD similar to those who have served in war zones. Insurance companies try to pay out as little as possible, but our skilled attorneys, taking into account your nonphysical injuries, fight for your rights to get the maximum amount.
Punitive damages are awarded when the offending party’s act was particularly egregious such as an intentional act caused by road rage. In these cases, awarded damages can be considerably higher.
Truck Accident Injuries Are Frequently Serious and Can Leave Permanent Damage
Injuries suffered in an accident with a large truck can be difficult to predict, since the intensity of the crash varies. The types of injuries received as a result of an accident with a truck can vary from spinal and neck injuries, broken bones and head injuries to soft tissue damage and organ damage.
Burns may occur as a result of an accident due to a crash-related fire or explosion. Chemical burns often occur when a tanker truck is carrying corrosive materials. Burns require a long period of treatment and recovery, and when serious burns occur, death can be the result, particularly due to infection.
Injuries not only take a physical toll but often result in extensive hospital stays and periods of rehabilitation. The cost for this type of care is high and can lead to insurmountable medical debt. Since time away from work is extended, the financial loss is compounded.
Compensation beyond that covered by insurance needs to satisfy the debt. Isaacs & Isaacs does that with a just settlement that will allow you to move on after the crash, or if wrongful death in involved, provide a family with the security they need.
After a truck accident, permanent life changes may occur.
Truck Accident Statistics: Where and When Crashes Happen Most
Collisions with large trucks follow trends on certain types of roads. 31 percent of all 18-wheeler truck accidents that occurred in 2014 happened on freeways and interstates. Those locales ranked second in number of fatalities involving a semi-truck.
Though the fast speeds of the highways might suggest a greater risk of accident, truck crashes tend to occur most on other type of major roads. 59 percent of all accidents occurred on other common major roads, giving those locales the top ranking for fatalities involving a semi-truck. Accidents on minor roads accounted for the remaining nine percent.
The time of day you are driving can also make you safer on the road. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, most truck crashes occurred between noon and 3:00 p.m. in 2014. With a total of 17 percent of all truck crashes throughout the day and night happening between these hours, it resulted in the deaths of 622 individuals.
The safest time to drive was between midnight and 3:00 a.m. However, during this time period, seven percent of the large truck accidents occurred and still resulted in the deaths of 249 individuals.
You might think that weekends see the largest number of fatalities from accidents with large trucks, but this is not true. Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays saw a higher number of accidents with large trucks in 2014. In fact, over half of accident deaths due to collisions with large trucks occurred on these three days of the week resulting in a total of 1,893 fatalities.
The safest day of the week during 2014 was Sunday, which saw seven percent of the fatalities from large truck accidents. In 2014, 239 individuals lost their lives on a Sunday.
Truck crash attorneys at Isaacs & Isaacs are experienced in investigating the cause of an accident to determine fault and securing damages for injured victims. We investigate the accident using police reports, video cam and witness accounts to do this as well as accident reconstruction reports, including black box reports. Having vast experience in truck accident cases and understanding the trauma and uncertainness for the future of those who have been injured helps us provide what you need.
If you have been injured in an accident with a large truck that was not your fault, be assured that our attorneys will work hard to prepare a strong offense so that your suffering will not go unheeded. Call us at 800-800-8888 for a free consultation and to have your questions answered. You can contact us in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana where our offices are open 24 hours a day to serve you.