Tractor Trailer Accidents

Also referred to as big rigs, semi-trailers and mack trucks, tractor-trailers are large motor vehicles that are vital to the transportation of food, textiles, petroleum and nearly any other commodity. The Department of Transportation (DOT) limits the size of tractor-trailers to be no higher than 13.5 ft, no wider than 102 inches, and no heavier than 80,000 lbs (gross).

There are a number of different types of tractor trailers that are uniquely tailored to transport a distinct type of cargo. Specific types of tractor trailers may include:

  • Buses
  • Car haulers
  • Flatbed trucks
  • Refrigerated trucks
  • Tankers

Despite their vital role in the transportation of commodities, however, semi-trucks have been known to cause serious, fatal accidents due to:

  • Driver intoxication, inexperience or fatigue
  • Failure to obey traffic laws
  • Poor road and weather conditions
  • Strict deadlines and incentives to deliver cargo as soon as possible
  • Vehicle part malfunctions, defects or failures

If you or a loved one was involved in a tractor-trailer accidents and would like to see if qualify to recover damages, contact our truck accident lawyers.

Tractor Trailer Safety

Tractor-trailer safety concerns are a major issue when it comes to traffic safety. Approximately one in eight fatalities on our nation’s roadways involve a large truck, or “semi.” Tractor trailers are involved in 500,000 accidents each year in the United States. Of these accidents, 140,000 people are injured and nearly 5,000 people die. Of those victims who receive injuries, approximately 26,000 will suffer from serious brain damage or the loss of a limb. Ninety-eight percent of the time, the people who die in tractor trailer accidents are the drivers or passengers of other motor vehicles. In order to reduce these staggering numbers, it is imperative that tractor-trailer safety be established, complied with, and properly enforced.

Tractor Trailer Accident Statistics

  • About 5,000 Americans are killed in the 500,000 truck accidents that occur each year in the U.S
  • Truck accidents make up around 12 percent of all traffic accidents
  • Tractor trailer accidents are considered to be the most dangerous type of truck collision, as individuals in other smaller cars are killed 98 percent of the time they get into accidents with tractor trailers
  • More than 75 percent of tractor trailer accidents are caused by the drivers of other cars – not the truck drivers

Tractor Trailer Safety Studies

In the 1990s the federal government conducted a series of studies regarding tractor-trailer safety and accident information. In response to the information they gathered, the government established the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in 2000. The FMCSA is responsible for creating, implementing, and overseeing tractor trailer safety standards in order to reduce the number of tractor trailer accidents that occur in the United States. The FMCSA has implemented a variety of more stringent tractor-trailer safety standards than had previously been in place.

One of the major factors which can compromise tractor trailer safety is truck driver fatigue. The nature of truck transportation often requires covering long distances over long periods of time. Tractor trailer safety studies have indicated that fatigue is responsible for tractor trailer accidents thirty to forty percent of the time. In one study, twenty percent of the truck drivers surveyed stated that they had fallen asleep at the wheel at least once in the last three months. Because of this serious risk, the FMCSA placed stricter limits on the number of hours a driver can work between breaks and requires drivers to keep Hours of Service logs.

Tractor Trailer Safety Requirements

In addition to this tractor trailer safety requirement, truck companies are required to carry a minimum level of insurance. They are also required to properly maintain all tractor trailers and equipment to sustain tractor trailer safety. Trucks are required to stop at weigh stations to ensure that they are in compliance with weight limitations. Hours of Service logs are often checked at this time as well. Local and state law enforcement also plays an integral role in tractor-trailer safety and will conduct random stops and inspections.

Despite tractor trailer safety measures, accidents still can and do occur, and violations of tractor trailer safety laws are also made. A 1997 study found that in a randomly given week of inspections at least 9000 tractor trailer safety violations were committed. When tractor trailer safety is breached, serious accidents can result.

Tractor Trailer Accident Attorney Help!

When negligence, carelessness or recklessness plays a role in a trucking accident, victims will have a legal accident claim and should meet with an esteemed injury accident lawyer to learn more about the process associated with pursuing a legal claim. If you’ve been injured in a tractor trailer accident and think you may benefit by discussing your case with a legal professional, contact our truck accident attorneys for help today.