Truck drivers should be the safest drivers on the road because that is their profession. But even with exhaustive federal guidelines governing truckers and trucking companies, large trucks are still the deadliest vehicles on the road.
It’s no wonder – there appears to be little that can change this when you consider the massive weight of these behemoths. The average empty semi weighs in at 35,000 pounds and has a full-capacity weight limit of 80,000 pounds. To add some perspective, an average midsized sedan weighs 3,500 pounds, and a full-sized SUV weighs in at just under 4,800 pounds.
In an accident involving a loaded semi (because these trucks are loaded or they are not making any money) and an SUV, the truck is 16 times heavier than the SUV. In the same scenario with a midsize car, the truck outweighs the car 23 to 1.
The Fatality Rates for Trucks
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), large trucks account for only 4% of all registered vehicles in the country and account for 9% of the total vehicle miles traveled.
But in 2014 alone, large trucks were involved in 14.9% of all fatal crashes. And that is just on a national level.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) determined that in the 10 states with the highest amount of truck traffic, 51% of fatal crashes involved at least one large truck. These states include California, Texas, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina. The I-95 corridor is just one example here in North Carolina where truck accidents happen frequently. The same is true with I-40 between Asheville and Wilmington.
The sheer size of big rigs allows them to drive right over smaller vehicles, leaving little chance of survival for any of the occupants in a car. The NHTSA reports that 73% of fatalities in accidents involving a truck were occupants of the other vehicles. An additional 10% of the fatalities were innocent bystanders, such as pedestrians or bicyclists hit by the truck. Only 17% of those who were killed in a truck accident was the occupants of the truck.
In addition to fatalities, semi-truck crashes were responsible for over 111,000 injuries in 2014. This number marked a 17% increase in injuries from truck accidents since 2013. Again, the majority of the injuries are suffered by occupants of other vehicles or bystanders, as only 23% were sustained by the occupants of the trucks.
The Science Behind a Truck Crash
“Impact force” is the shock delivered when two objects collide. This is the force that travels through the human body when it is involved in a vehicle crash. To calculate this force, you enter the weight of the vehicle and its speed at the time of the crash to determine the approximate force that the occupant withstood.
When a midsize car hits an object at a speed of 50 mph, the impact on the victims in the car is 146 tons. But when a large truck hits the same object at the same speed of 50 mph, the force on the occupants increases to 3,345 tons or almost 22 times more force.
This impact force often leads to catastrophic injuries to the occupants of any vehicle a truck hits. Some of these injuries include:
- Back and neck damage, such as dislocations, herniations, broken bones, and soft tissue damage;
- Broken bones in the extremities as well as the body’s core, such as ribs, collarbone, and pelvis fractures; and
- Head trauma, including diffuse axonal injuries, contusions, and coup-contrecoup injuries
- Internal injuries.
Surviving a crash involving a large truck makes you a fortunate person, in one sense. But after the accident, you are likely to be facing years of pain due to the traumatic injuries you sustained. Medical care, assisted living, therapy, and a possible disability could all be a part of your new future as a result of the accident. It is critical to your physical, mental, and emotional well-being that you receive the compensation you deserve to care for yourself and your family in the coming years.
The Rhine Law Firm, P.C., understands these challenges, as well as the long-term impact your injuries could have on you and your loved ones.
Call (910) 501-2474 to schedule a consultation with a North Carolina truck accident attorney who can explain your rights and options. Let our experienced team protect your rights, while you focus on healing and regaining the full enjoyment of your life.