Let’s face it, any collision between vehicles can lead to serious bodily injury, if not death. However, 18-wheeler wrecks are different. In a recent study, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety determined that approximately 4,000 people die each year from large trucking collisions. Further, 18-wheeler occupants accounted for only 16% of those deaths, with 67% of those killed were occupants in other vehicles.
So what makes 18-wheelers so dangerous?
For starters, 18-wheelers are bigger and heavier. For example, it is not uncommon for an 18-wheeler, including the truck and trailer, to weigh 80,000 pounds and measure 48 feet long. With a size and weight like that, maneuvering a semi and trailer is challenging, forcing the driver to have difficulty coming to sudden stops and making sudden turns, which often lead to jack-knifing. Another inherent problem is that a 18-wheeler has several blind spots, especially on the right side of the 18-weeler (according to a study from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration [“FMSCA”], an 18-wheeler’s blind spots can extend to 20 feet ahead and 30 feet behind).
Another common problem with 18-wheelers is that the truck drivers (and, more often, their employers) do not take proper precautions to ensure others’ safety on the road. For example, even though there are strict hours of service guidelines and regulations, employers incentivize drivers to deliver their loads as quickly as possible and punish drivers who do not deliver loads quickly. The result is that drivers work longer shifts on the road, violating several guidelines, and end up with extreme fatigue, putting them and other drivers at risk.
Probably the greatest factor leading to 18-wheeler collisions are that many drivers are not sufficiently trained. With few exceptions, Mississippi 18-wheeler drivers must have a commercial driving license (otherwise known as a “CDL”). However, there is no unified approach to teaching drivers how to properly operate a commercial vehicle. Additionally, many employers do not conduct proper background checks or skills assessments to determine whether an employee has the proper background to drive a commercial vehicle, with some employers not even requesting their drivers to submit to periodic drug or alcohol screenings. Yet another problem is that employers often have no accountability measures in place to ensure that complaints about an employee’s driving are noted and remedied.
Contact an Experience Personal Injury Attorney
These are just a few of the broad factors that make 18-wheeler cases unique. 18-wheeler accidents are obviously different than your typical automotive collisions and can potentially cause significantly more damage including deadly injuries. In addition to following extra rules and regulations, CDL drivers are also held to a much higher standard than your typical driver. Nevertheless, unnecessary accidents will happen. Should you be in a collision of any kind with an 18-wheeler, no matter the severity of the injuries and damage, you should immediately contact an attorney at Calderón & Williams, PLLC who will hold the commercial vehicle owner and operator accountable and fight for the compensation that you deserve.