TYPES OF TRUCK 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.

Jackknife Accidents

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.

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.”

If you look at the shape of the tractor and its trailer, you’ll see that it resembles a jackknife blade and handle in a resting position.

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

Rear-end accidents are especially dangerous because commercial trucks weigh so much more than other vehicles that their impact crushes the receiving vehicle and punishing the vehicles occupants bodies. Most rear-end accidents are because a truck’s driver negligence in one of these ways:

  • Improper Lane Change
  • Speeding
  • Following Too Closely
  • Driving while distracted

A rear-end collision occurs when the front end of a truck crashes into the rear of another vehicle. Most truck accidents are rear-end collisions.

T-Bone Accidents

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.

A side-impact collision, also known as a “T-Bone collision,” is when a truck driver strikes the side of a vehicle. This type of accident can have devastating consequences because of the minimal protection that the side of a vehicle provides its occupants.  

Truck Rollovers

If a truck’s tires do not grip the road, the driver is likely to lose control, causing the truck 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.

A rollover accident is particularly violent. A commercial vehicle is more likely to roll over because of its high center of gravity. Rollover accidents often occur when a truck driver drives too fast for conditions.  

Underride 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.

An underrride is when a vehicle collides with a truck or the trailer of a tractor-trailer and runs under the truck. This often leads to the slicing off of the roof of the vehicle. Rear guards are the main preventative measure to reduce underride deaths.

Lost Loads

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act (§ 392.9) requires drivers to inspect their loads and ensure all cargo is secure within 50 miles of beginning a trip. 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.

Items that fall from tractor trailers can quickly become deadly projectiles, which can cause significant harm and damage to highway users. Debris that is left in the roadway significantly increases the risk of collisions.

Tire Blowouts

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.

Tire blowouts can cause tractor trailers to quickly lose control of their rig. If a tire blows out it is common for a load to shift which can result in a lost load.

Wide-Turn Accidents

It’s much easier to turn a sedan than it is to turn a truck, especially on a narrow roadway. To make a right turn, a truck driver often has to swing left to complete the turn. As a result, the truck may trap cars between the curb and the driver’s blind spot.

Box Truck Accidents

A box truck, also known as a cube truck, cube van, box van, panel truck or straight truck, is a truck with a cuboid-shaped cargo area.

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 their employers have them on strict timelines, the government has even more stringent regulations for “Hours of Service” that a truck driver can work. These regulations 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. Examples are the driver could be drunk, the congested roads make it difficult for the truck to navigate, or the driver could be reckless to meet their deadline.

The two most 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 will unsafely change lanes which causes a collision. 

A rollover accident is when a box truck turns over while in motion. This type of accident happens most often when taking a turn too fast and when the driver doesn’t have enough experience to be driving the truck in the first place. An example of this is when a person rents a large moving truck without having the knowledge to drive it safely.

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’s mechanics properly 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?
  • Was the driver speeding or driving recklessly?

Cement Truck Accidents

Cement trucks vary in weight greatly depending on whether it is carrying cement or not. Normal weight 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 driven at a high rate of speed and by an unqualified driver, a loaded cement truck can quickly become a dangerous weapon on the road.

If you were hurt in a collision with a cement truck, not only can the driver be held liable but so can the owner of the cement truck company. Also if you were on a construction site when dealing with the cement truck, the owner could be held liable for the negligence.

Bus Accidents

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

Bus accidents account for more than 200 deaths per year.

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 and from an active construction site.  A 5 axel dump truck can weigh over 65,000 pounds.  That mean even in a low speed accident, a dump truck can cause serious damage.  Bumpers on dump trucks are either high or are omitted altogether for added ground clearance which can lead to the front or rear or a car riding under the truck.

Dump trucks are specifically designed to carry 65,000 pounds; therefore, accidents involving dump trucks are often fatal.

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