Semi-trucks are all over the road, and they pose significant dangers, causing tens of thousands of accidents each year. This article discusses the numbers behind semi-truck accidents, as well as key pieces of advice if you’ve been involved in one.
What is Considered a Semi-Truck?
“Semi-truck” is an overarching term for a large commercial vehicle. It can also be called a semi, a tractor-trailer, an 18-wheeler, or a big rig, among other monikers. Commonly, this term is used to describe the entire tractor-trailer unit, or a truck with a trailer attached.
The definition of a commercial vehicle is set by federal and state regulators, with each state potentially having its own definition by law. According to federal safety regulations, a commercial vehicle is one that:
- Has a gross vehicle weight rating of 4,536 kg (10,001 pounds) or more
- Is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation
- Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, not used to transport passengers for compensation
- Is used in transporting material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous
Semis by the Numbers: How Many Accidents Are Caused by Semi-Trucks?
Accidents that involved large trucks totaled 127,000 in 2019, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). That number represents a staggering 13 percent increase from 2016.
The number of fatal crashes involving large trucks is also increasing: in 2019, there were 5,005 such fatal crashes, which is a 2 percent increase from the previous year. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the number of people who died in large truck crashes was 31 percent higher in 2019 than in 2009.
The FMCSA reports that approximately 57 percent of all fatal crashes involving large trucks occurred in rural areas, 25 percent occurred on Interstate highways, and 13 percent fell into both categories by occurring on rural Interstate highways. They tend to happen most often on weekdays: the vast majority of fatal crashes (83 percent) and nonfatal crashes (86 percent) involving large trucks occurred Monday through Friday, the FMCSA says.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that of the 4,119 people who died in fatal accidents involving large trucks, 67 percent of them were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles. This statistic is particularly troubling, as it illustrates the severity of an accident involving a semi-truck to drivers and passengers in cars. A semi-truck can weigh as much as 20-30 times the weight of a passenger car, the IIHS reports, and are taller with greater ground clearance, which can result in smaller vehicles under-riding semi-trucks in an accident.
What Kinds of Accidents and Injuries Are Common with Semi-Trucks?
There are many reasons for accidents involving semi-trucks:
- Driver error or negligence, such as failure to follow traffic laws
- Negligence by the trucking company, such as failure to inspect or maintain the truck for safety
- Alcohol or drug use by drivers
- Distracted driving, such as improper use of electronic devices
- Drowsy driving, often caused by too many hours on the road
- Lack of proper driver training by the trucking company
- Issues with cargo, such as improperly loading or overloading the truck
- Mechanical issues with the truck, such as a failure of the brake system
Injuries that result from a semi-truck accident are often severe and serious. They can include head injuries and traumatic brain injuries, as well as injuries to the back and spine. They can result in paralysis, significant impairments, and in some cases, even death.
If you’ve suffered injuries in an accident with a semi-truck, you may be able to recover from your damages. Those include your hospital bills, medical treatment, doctor’s visits, and prescription medication costs. They may also include damages to your vehicle or other personal property, along with any wages you have lost as a result of being unable to work. Moreover, you may be entitled to recover from your pain and suffering, mental anguish, and other costs that are a direct result of the accident.
How Can FVF Help If You’ve Been Involved in Such an Accident?
If you’ve been in an accident with a semi-truck, having the right attorney following your accident can make all the difference in recovering from your injuries. Most often, a truck accident will result in a claim of negligence, which means you’ll need to prove that the truck driver, trucking company, or both failed to take proper care on the road, causing your injuries. An experienced and knowledgeable truck accident lawyer can help you prepare a solid negligence case. They can also help negotiate with the truck driver, trucking company, and insurance companies involved in order to obtain a favorable settlement on your behalf. Contact our truck accident lawyers for a free consultation about your case.