Tractor-Trailer Accidents & How To Avoid Them

In 2011, there were over 3,500 deaths as a result of tractor-trailer accidents and 73,000 injuries.  According to the NHTSA, 76% of fatalities from tractor-trailer accidents were the occupants of the passenger vehicle. A traffic accident involving a large commercial truck, such as an 18-wheeler, can have disastrous consequences. Certain known conditions tend to cause these tragic accidents every year. These include:

  • Size & Weight Difference: A tractor-trailer ranges from 12,100 to 80,000 pounds. This is more than 25 times heavier than the average vehicle. This is why it takes longer for a truck to stop than it does for a car. For example, a car traveling 55mph takes 265 feet to stop, while a tractor-trailer needs another 45 feet.
  • Fatigue: Truck drivers tend to drive hundreds of thousands of miles at a time. They also get paid by the mile, not the hour. Because of this, many drivers tend to drive for longer periods of time than they should. Their fatigue can result in serious and fatal accidents.
  • Driver Distractions: Driving for long hours at a time causes some truck drivers to become distracted and/or bored. Talking on the phone while driving, texting or eating can impair their driving.
  • Adverse Conditions: When roads are poorly maintained and the weather has created adverse road conditions, driving a truck can be extremely hazardous. It is harder to maintain control and stability in such a large and heavy vehicle.
  • Improper Weight Distribution: If a load is not properly distributed, the trailer can sway which can lead to tip-overs and serious injuries.
  • Traffic Flow: When passenger vehicles aggressively weave through traffic, tractor-trailers are sometimes forced to brake suddenly.

To learn more about our Truck Accident Trial group, visit our website. There are ways for you, as a passenger vehicle, to avoid tractor-trailer accidents. Here are some tips:

  • Beware of Blind Spots: The bigger the vehicle, the larger the blind spot. Tractor-trailers have very large blind spots. If you can’t see the driver in the truck’s side mirror, the driver most likely cannot see you either. If you plan on passing a tractor-trailer, make sure the truck driver can see you.
  • Don’t Change Lanes Abruptly: Any sudden motion in a truck driver’s periphery can cause the vehicle to respond unpredictably.
  • Avoid Getting Squeezed: When you’re at an intersection, tractor-trailers can sometimes make wide turns. Always let them go first to avoid getting squeezed and caught in the driver’s blind spot.
  • Keep a Safe Distance: Maintain a distance of 20 to 25 car lengths when you are behind a truck.
  • Give the Truck a Wider Berth Uphill: When driving on an incline behind a truck, always allow for more space in case the driver is struggling to shift gears and the truck starts to drift backwards.
  • Avoid Road Rage: If you believe that a tractor-trailer driver is driving too aggressively, don’t react negatively. Road rage only makes things worse for everyone on the road and increases your probability of an accident.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident involving a tractor-trailer, contact us immediately. Get more facts and safety tips by visiting State Farm’s Learning Center.