You may not think about those big semi-trucks that are on the road with you each day, but if you are tangled up with a semi, you and your car could suffer some serious harm. Semi-trucks are involved in over half a million accidents on the road each year, and a larger proportion of accidents involving large trucks lead to death and injury. It’s easy to understand why.
According to Santa Maria car accident lawyer James McKiernan, “when a semi-truck collides with a regular passenger vehicle, the damage tends to be much more devastating than a typical car-versus-car accident. Due to their massive size and weight, trucks are more difficult to control and can easily cause serious injury and wrongful death if an accident does occur.”
Here are some reasons why semi truck accidents need special attention, because not only are the accidents worse initially when the wreck occurs but also the effects of the accidents might linger with you for years.
The Sheer Size of Trucks Is Daunting
The average car weighs around 3000 pounds, and it is about 14 feet long. Compare that to the average truck, which weighs 80,000 pounds and is 72 feet long. Your car will be dwarfed by any semi on the road. The average car takes over 300 feet to stop if you are forced to brake at 70 miles per hour. Semi-trucks take at least twice as long to stop as an average car, if the driver is awake, paying attention, and the weather is ideal for driving.
Higher Rates of Injury and Death
Because semi-trucks are so much larger than cars, the impact of a crash between a car and a tractor-trailer can be horrifying. Today’s cars are equipped with great airbags, but those airbags are designed to withstand a crash with a car or a truck that is roughly the same size as your car. Even a low-speed crash with a semi can total your car, and cause severe injuries. While 30% of all accidents between two cars result in accidents or injuries, this is partly because the number of cars on the interstate is overwhelming. Trucks only represent 6.5% of total accidents, but they have three times the injury and fatality rates due to their size.
Injuries May Not Be Immediately Apparent
If you have previously been in a wreck, you know that often you really don’t feel the result of the injuries until the next day. On the second day after an accident, you might experience a lot of muscle pain, but it goes away over a couple of days. However, if you are in an accident with a semi-truck you need to be evaluated by a doctor, and you’ll want to have x-rays taken. Your injuries after a semi-truck collision may not be immediately visible, and the adrenaline after a car accident may limit your ability to feel pain. You need to go to a doctor or the hospital to have your injuries documented.
Trucks Have Special Instruments to Determine the Cause of an Accident
You may have a front or rear-facing camera that can help you park and reverse without causing an accident, but semis are equipped with a lot of instruments that can help you after a crash. Truck drivers have to keep logs of the hours they were driving and the hours they sleep, and department of transportation officials, police officers, and other agencies have the right to look up the records at any time. Also, many semis have black boxes, GPS systems, and speed tracking that can also help reconstruct the crash. A good trucking law attorney can help with accident reconstruction.
While there are a lot fewer semi-trucks on the road, and your chances of being involved in an accident with a semi are small, accidents with semis occur every day. What can you do to prevent an accident with a semi-truck? There are preventative measures you can take to lower your risk of an accident with a semi. First, keep your distance from large trucks. Give semis plenty of room on the interstate. This will allow the trucks to stop safely. A good rule of thumb is to give the semi five trunk lengths of room. Of course, trucks will need more room to stop in the rain, sleet, or snow. You will also need to take extra caution around construction zones if there are semis on the road–in case the semi driver is not paying attention.
If you get involved with trucking accidents, be sure and get all of the driver’s information, so that you can request driver logs and information from the black box. You will want to go to the hospital or the doctor to get a full check-up to document your injuries. Give yourself a day or two to recover, and then you may want to contact a truck accident lawyer to make sure your interests are protected.