18-Wheeler Semi Trucks Are Killing And Crippling Us
Traffic accidents involving large 18-wheeler trucks kill more people annually than have died in all of the domestic airline crashes over the past half-century. More than 4,300 people died in accidents involving semis and other large trucks in 2016, a 28 percent increase over 2009, according to the federal government. It would be equal to a 737 airliner crashing twice a month, killing all on board.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the federal regulatory agency responsible for protecting us from danger on the nation’s roads, has failed to mandate changes that over the past two decades might have averted thousands of rear-end truck crashes. NHTSA has largely ignored repeated pleas from the National Transportation Safety Board to take action that would prevent trucks from rear-ending other vehicles.
Two decades have passed, and NHTSA has failed to require front end crash avoidance systems on heavy trucks. Automatic emergency braking systems and collision warning systems have become standard equipment on passenger vehicles.
Congress, under the influence of trucking industry lobbyist, continues to roll back safety regulations and block new ones.
Large semi-trucks are disproportionately involved in fatal accidents. Nearly 11,000 fatal truck crashes on U.S. roadways killed 12,230 people from 2015-2017. Trucks were involved in one in eight of all deadly traffic accidents and one-quarter of all fatal crashes in work zones, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
A rear-end collision in a work zone critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan killed a friend and injured eight other people. The truck driver who had been awake for 28 consecutive and was pulling an 18-wheeler trailer for Walmart crashed into Morgan’s van.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. settled Morgan’s lawsuit and that by another injured passenger reportedly for more than $90-million.
Vehicle Safety Lawyer Todd Tracy represents the victims of “big rig bullies.” The Tracy Law Firm files crashworthiness lawsuits against trucking companies and vehicle manufacturers.
Our crash lab and vehicle safety experts can determine if vehicle defects caused death and catastrophic injuries. It is not just a question of who caused the accident, but also about who caused the deadly or severe injuries.
You may be entitled to recovering more financial damages from a crashworthiness lawsuit.
The 2 Types of Deadly Truck Accidents Caused By Safety Defects
We typically see two types of safety defects involved in semi-truck accidents: the Side Underride 18-wheeler accident and the Rear Underride 18-Wheeler Accident.
In 2015, 1,542 people died in two-vehicle crashes between a passenger vehicle and a tractor-trailer. Three hundred one of those accident victims were killed when their vehicle struck the side of a tractor-trailer. Two hundred ninety-two people died when their vehicle struck the rear of the semi-truck. Because of gaps in fatality data, it’s impossible to know how many of the crashes involved underride, but IIHS researchers estimate it’s about half.
The Side Underride Truck Accident
The truckers cause a side underride accident when they make a u-turn in traffic, exposing the forty-foot trailer or jackknife the trailer across the roadway.
The victim’s vehicle crashed into the side of the 18-wheeler’s trailer and wedged beneath the truck’s trailer. There is no structural guard to prevent a victim’s vehicle from going under the trailer.
This type of accident is called a “side underride.” The vehicle’s safety systems don’t work in a side underride truck accident. The impact shears off the car’s roof and decapitates the vehicle’s occupants.
Side underride guards have been on trucks in Europe for more than twenty-five years. The U.S. trucking industry has resisted installing the guards.
The Rear End Collision Underride Truck Accident
The second common deadly truck accident is a rear-end collision with its trailer.
In 2016, 424 of the 2,056 passenger vehicle occupants killed in large truck crashes died when their vehicles struck the rear of a large truck. It’s not known how many of these were underride crashes, according to IIHS. However, a 2010 analysis by the agency of a small sample of fatal accidents involving the rear of a truck found that 82% involved underride.
Underride guards are a metal bumper that hangs from the back of a high-riding semi-truck trailer. The bumper is supposed to stop a smaller vehicle from sliding underneath in a rear-end override crash.
The bars are called “Mansfield Bars” named after a rear-end truck collision killed Hollywood starlet Jayne Mansfield in 1967. The accident sheared off the roof and decapitated Mansfield when her car slid under the rear of the truck. Three children in the back seat survived. Shortly after that, NHTSA required underride bars for semi-truck trailers.
A defective underride guard allows a car that rear-ends a semi-truck to slide underneath the trailer.
As shown in the picture below, many semi-truck trailers use poorly designed guards without structural supports on each side.
When a vehicle hits the outer edge of the override bar, it rips through the passenger compartment with a deadly impact.
Defective override guards bend or break. It causes the impact of the forces to bypass the passenger vehicle’s structures that are designed to absorb crash energy. The vehicle’s windshield becomes the central point impact. The airbags and seat belts fail to restrain the occupants, and the collision with the override bar destroys the top of the occupant compartment. Crash victims are usually decapitated or suffer traumatic brain damage in a rear-end truck accident.
Do these collisions resemble a truck accident that took the life of a loved one or caused catastrophic injury?
The Tracy Law Firm’s Crash Lab will conduct a free examination to determine if you have a crashworthiness lawsuit.
Deadly Truck Accident Numbers
- Fatal tractor-trailer accidents rose 5.8% in 2017 from 2016.
- Non-tractor-trailer accidents increased by 18.7% according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics.
- The number of occupants in passenger vehicles killed ranged from two in the District of Columbia to 1,358 in Texas between 2015 and 2017.
When Do Most Deadly Truck Crashes Occur?
- Most fatal trucking crashes occur between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., peaking at the 1 p.m. hour with 676 fatal accidents (over three years).
Where Do Deadly Truck Crashes Occur?
- I-10 is the deadliest road in the nation for trucking crashes.
- More than 21% of all large-truck drivers involved in fatal crashes had at least one prior speeding conviction, nearly the same number as that of passenger car drivers involved in deadly accidents.
What’s The Primary Cause of Deadly Truck Accidents?
- Failure to yield the right of way was the most common truck driver behavior related to fatal truck crashes.
- Here are the rest of the top 10, from the second most common cause to least most:
- careless driving;
- improper lane usage;
- failure to obey traffic signs and signals;
- following improperly;
- stopping in the roadway;
- erratic operation;
- improper lane change;
- making an improper turn.