Wherever you go in the United States, you’re going to have to share the road with 18-wheelers and tractor-trailers. With millions of these huge, heavy trucks on the road, it’s little wonder that they are involved in hundreds of thousands of accidents each year. Because they haul billions of dollars in freight, these trucks won’t be taken off the road any time soon. You can’t avoid them, but you can educate yourself to minimize the odds of being involved in an accident with them. By understanding the prevalence of 18-wheeler accidents and the primary causes of such incidents, you will enjoy a safer driving experience in general.
Tractor-Trailer Accident Statistics
Anyone who spends a decent amount of time on the road will agree that tractor-trailer accidents are frighteningly common. The aftermath of these types of accidents can be absolutely catastrophic, and passenger vehicles generally bear the brunt of the damage. These types of accidents are caused by a number of things. Before delving into the top causes of 18-wheeler accidents, you should consider a few very sobering statistics.
- Every year in the United States, there are more than 500,000 tractor-trailer accidents that result in more than 5,000 fatalities. Although these incidents occur throughout the country, more deaths happen in some states than in others. In recent years, the states at the top of the list were Texas, Florida and California.
- It is estimated that approximately 12 percent of all car accidents in the United States involve tractor-trailers. That may not seem significant, but it is when you consider the fact that there are approximately 5.25 million motor vehicle accidents in the country per year.
- At least one fatality occurs in 98 percent of all motor vehicle accidents involving 18-wheelers. What’s even more troubling is the fact that 86 percent of those fatalities and 77 percent of the injuries that are sustained are suffered by drivers of regular passenger vehicles.
- If you think tractor-trailer accidents are more likely in urban areas, think again. Approximately 68 percent of all incidents happen in rural areas. 78 percent of tractor-trailer accidents happen on weekdays, and 66 percent happen during the day.
- Of the approximately 15.5 million trucks that are on America’s roads, 13 percent are tractor-trailers. In other words, there are more than two million 18-wheelers on the road at any given time.
- Around 70 percent of all of the freight that is hauled in the U.S. is hauled by tractor-trailers, and it has an estimated value of around $671 billion.
- While tractor-trailer operators are to blame in many cases, 75 percent of all 18-wheeler accidents are caused by the drivers of smaller cars.
Causes of 18-Wheeler and Tractor-Trailer Accidents
A lot can go wrong when tractor-trailers and regular cars share the road. Many different things cause 18-wheeler accidents. They include:
- Reckless driving on the part of tractor-trailer drivers and the drivers of regular vehicles
- Driver intoxication
- Failure to obey traffic laws
- Equipment defects and failures
- Obstructions in the road including animals, debris and disabled vehicles
- Driver fatigue, which is especially prevalent among over-worked 18-wheeler operators
- Improperly attached loads
- Inexperienced 18-wheeler operators
- Insufficiently trained tractor-trailer operators
- Poor road or weather conditions
Although the drivers of regular passenger vehicles are to blame in the majority of cases, tractor-trailer companies and drivers often cause accidents on the road. Considering the fact that these companies and drivers are charged with operating huge, dangerous vehicles, it is especially important that laws and regulations are obeyed at all times. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. When laws and regulations are flouted, innocent drivers pay the price.
If you have been injured in an accident involving a tractor-trailer, it’s crucial to seek the assistance of an experienced attorney. Trucking companies do not have your best interests at heart. All too often, it is a numbers game, and they will do what it takes to avoid paying what they owe. Without legal representation, you will never be able to get the compensation that you deserve.
After being involved in a truck accident and seeking the necessary medical care, you should contact a competent truck accident lawyer. The right attorney will work to ensure that your rights are protected. By holding the responsible parties accountable, you will have an easier time getting the compensation that you are owed, and you may be able to help prevent similar accidents in the future.