What Makes 18-Wheelers So Dangerous?It seems like a simple, straightforward question. 18-wheelers can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Their intimidating size leads to increased blind spots and slower reaction times. Drivers across the United States may take this for granted or think they can outmaneuver an 18-wheeler, but this can endanger their lives. According to recent numbers, there are over 2.8 million semi-trucks on the road, and according to the FMCSA, there has been a 40 percent jump in fatal bus and truck accidents in recent years. What are some of the causes?
- Greater stopping distance: Stopping distance plays a big role in preventing accidents and the amount of force involved in an accident. At 40 miles per hour, it takes a semi-truck about 36 percent farther than a passenger vehicle to come to a complete stop. At 65 miles per hour, the stopping distance is 66 percent farther! When paired with the increased momentum and weight of a semi-truck, this is a dangerous equation.
- Wide right turns: If you have ever driven behind an 18-wheeler, you have likely seen their warnings about wide right turns. But how many people have actually read this sign and know what it means? 18-wheelers require more room to turn. When they turn right, they must veer outside of their designated lane and then merge back into their original lane. When the truck moves back into their original lane, this creates a hazardous gap between the cab and the trailer. A car traveling in this area can become crushed, leading to serious injury or death. Never pass a truck when it is turning.
- Blind spots: Every vehicle has blind spots, but for cargo trucks, this is a big problem. 18-wheelers can have blind spots of UP TO 30 FEET. As a driver, this means you should always allow plenty of room between you and the truck. Do not follow large trucks. At a minimum, keep a distance of at least 30 feet. In the front, this distance is about 20 feet. As a rule of thumb, if you can’t see the driver in the mirror, they can’t see you.
- Underride accidents: Large trucks sit higher off the ground than most other vehicles. This creates a big danger for passenger vehicles. During an accident, a smaller vehicle can slide under the truck and become pinned, resulting in catastrophic injuries or even death. The law requires underride guards for the rear of most 18-wheelers, but it presently does not require the same guards for the side or front of the vehicle.
Protect Yourself From the Dangers of Negligent DriversWe all hope that truck drivers receive extensive training and exercise extreme caution when operating their potentially dangerous vehicles. For the most part, they do, but that’s not always the case. Statistics show that easily-avoidable negligence contributes to most accidents. Even minor accidents with a heavy truck can cause severe injuries.
- Distracted driving: Distracted driving is a big problem for everyone on our roads. We have all seen someone so engrossed in their phone that they’re oblivious to their surroundings. Drivers short on time might be tempted to eat on the road as well. For large trucks, these little distractions can be deadly. Stay alert. If you see a truck drift out of their lane, act erratically, or overreact to hazards, keep your distance and report the behavior.
- Speeding: We’ve already discussed the lag a large truck encounters when coming to a stop. When you add speed, it makes the problem - and potential collisions - even worse. In most cases, high-speed collisions with trucks are fatal. If an 18-wheeler approaches your rear and is speeding, move over and let them pass.
- Poor maintenance: The law requires all truck drivers to inspect their trucks every time before they hit the road. The hope is that these inspections will allow truckers to catch any potential problems. Unfortunately, these inspections don’t always happen. Even when they do, they may not catch defective parts or other nasty surprises. Common preventable - but dangerous - mechanical issues include tire blowouts,poorly maintained lighting or windshield wipers, and bad brakes.
- Driving under the influence: In a perfect world, this irresponsible behavior wouldn’t happen, but it does. Although driving under the influence only accounts for a small percentage of accidents, recent numbers show that 3.6 percent of truck drivers involved in a fatal accident had at least some alcohol in their system at the time of the accident, and 2.5 percent had a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher. Be wary of drivers who are swerving or otherwise behaving erratically.
- Driver fatigue: Due to the long hours their job requires, truckers are not always well-rested. Fatigued and drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. When a person doesn’t get enough sleep they are more likely to make poor decisions, respond slowly, and worst of all, fall asleep at the wheel!
All Accidents Are TragicNo matter how big or small, a car accident severely disrupts the lives of victims and their families. Even seemingly minor “fender benders” can cause lifelong pain. If you are in an accident, it’s always important to seek immediate treatment, REGARDLESS OF HOW YOU FEEL. Traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and serious soft tissue injuries can sometimes fly under your radar in the moments immediately following your accident. Prompt medical attention can catch these issues and save your life. This can’t be stressed enough. Some of the most common injuries after a truck accident include:
Traumatic Brain InjuriesOur brain controls everything we do. When it is injured, it can affect every function of your body. Traumatic brain injuries are usually the result of a blow to the head or a penetrating wound. Symptoms may be immediately apparent, or they may take days or even a week to appear. Once again, swift medical treatment is necessary to detect and prevent these problems. Traumatic brain injuries are often life-threatening. Even if a doctor rules out an injury at the time of the accident, keep an eye out for symptoms that pop up for you later. Common symptoms include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Mood changes
- Sleep changes
- Trouble concentrating
- Memory loss
- Time loss
Spinal Cord InjuriesDid you know motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries in the United States? According to the Shepard Center, there are 17,500 new spinal cord injuries every year. These injuries are life-shattering and debilitating. The spinal cord is of chief importance because it sends messages from your brain to your body and vice versa. When there is damage to the cord, the messaging system cannot do its job. This results in partial or full paralysis from the point of the injury down. These injuries are usually the result of severe trauma like a blow to the back or a penetrating wound to the spinal cord.
Broken BonesBroken bones are an all-too-common injury, especially in motor vehicle accidents. When a large truck hits your car, the momentum of the accident can throw your body against the vehicle. This can cause broken arms, legs, or facial disfiguration. Broken bones require immediate treatment. One of the most common signs of a broken bone is extreme pain in the area of the break. Do not attempt to put weight on the injury or fix the injury yourself. Contrary to popular belief, a bone is not something you can “pop back into place.” Treatment options may include surgery, medication, or physical therapy.
Soft Tissue InjuriesOne of the most common injuries after an accident is soft tissue injuries. This can include your muscles, tendons, ligaments, or joints. Strains and sprains are common injuries as the crash forces your limbs into unnatural positions. Serious back and neck injuries are also common, especially in rear-end accidents. Often, these injuries result in chronic or sporadic pain you must manage for the rest of your life. Treatment may include physical therapy, massage, chiropractic treatment, injections, or medication.
Your Rights After a Truck AccidentMost states allow victims the right to recover damages after an accident. After your accident, the clock is ticking - you only have a certain window of time to make your claim. It’s important to talk to an attorney right away so you don’t miss out on your right to recover damages. Possible damages you are entitled to may include:
- Medical bills: After your truck accident, medical bills are likely to be the biggest drain on your bank account. Truck accidents routinely result in bills in the six figures or higher. This is not an amount the normal person can afford, and they shouldn’t have to. When your accident is the result of someone else’s negligence, you don’t have to face these challenges alone. A personal injury suit can help you recover costs related to doctor visits, surgeries, medication, transportation, and rehabilitation. For severe injuries, this will often include future estimated medical care as well.
- Lost wages: Serious accidents can leave you out of work for weeks, months, or permanently. This can cause severe financial strain for your family. At Stewart J. Guss, Injury Accident Lawyers, our goal is to recover compensation as soon as possible so you can put your focus where it belongs: on your recovery. Lost wages can cover any missed paychecks or lost earning potential. If you cannot return to work, you may also receive future lost wages.
- Home modifications: Injuries from truck accidents can disable their victims. When this happens, your impaired mobility may require accessibility modifications for your home, like wheelchair ramps, handrails, and stairlifts.
- Pain and suffering: Pain and suffering covers both the PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL toll of an accident. Accidents are scary, traumatizing, and can result in severe emotional harm and psychological troubles. Pain and suffering may include physical pain, mental anguish, depression, anxiety, or PTSD. These issues are valid - don’t allow greedy insurance companies to sweep them under the rug.
- Wrongful death: Sadly, 18-wheeler accidents are often fatal. The number of fatal crashes has been increasing in recent years according to FMCSA reporting. A wrongful death suit can help the deceased victim’s family recover costs relating to the funeral and burial, as well as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Don’t Wait—Get the Help You Need From Us!The legal team of Stewart J. Guss, Injury Accident Lawyers, is nationally recognized for protecting the rights of injured victims for more than two decades. We believe in providing tireless dedication to every client we serve, and we network with trusted affiliate firms who provide the same services. If you were injured in an 18-wheeler accident, call our office right now for a free consultation! Because we’re dedicated to providing excellent client care, we take all of our personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. This means you will not owe us a DIME unless we win your case. Because your rights are important, we make ourselves available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call us today at 800-898-4877 or contact us now by CLICKING HEREto learn more about how our team can help you.
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