Why are Truck Accidents so Dangerous?
Although the trucking industry has proven essential to the proper functioning of the nation’s economy, the unfortunate truth is that the commercial trucks used to transport goods across the country are perhaps the most dangerous types of vehicles on the road. Although many people assume that the dangers posed by these vehicles can be attributed primarily to their weight and size in comparison to passenger vehicles, the reality is that commercial trucks are dangerous to motorists for a number of reasons and not only because of their size. To learn more about the common causes of truck accidents or who is eligible to recover damages following this type of accident, please contact an experienced truck accident lawyer today for assistance.
Height and Size
While commercial vehicles pose a threat to other motorists on the road for a number of reasons, one of the most significant is their height in comparison to other cars. The standard height of a commercial vehicle, for instance, is over 13 and a half feet, while the standard height of passenger vehicles is closer to five feet. At double the height of average vehicles, large commercial trucks tend to be more unstable than passenger vehicles, making them prone to rollovers caused by:
- Strong winds;
- Swerving; and
- Sudden turns.
The excessive height of commercial vehicles also comes into play after a collision or rollover accident has already occurred, as the large size of these trucks can block multiple lanes of traffic, causing a chain reaction collision and serious injuries as a result. Similarly, many overpasses and bridges are not constructed to allow for trucks to pass beneath, so if a driver takes such a route, he or she risks becoming lodged underneath the bridge, knocking it down entirely, or even shearing off the top of the vehicle.
Commercial vehicles are also dangerous to other motorists who are on the road because they have the ability to jackknife, or fold in at the point of separation between the trailer and the cab, forming a 90 degree angle. These types of accidents are often caused by attempts to take turns too quickly or suddenly and unexpectedly braking, which can cause the trailer to block multiple lanes of traffic. Furthermore, the pendulum motion of a trailer swinging forward when jackknifing often results in a rollover accident, as trucks with cargo can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. This, combined with the length of the trailer, which are often as long as 28 feet, can cause a truck to skid for hundreds of feet, roll over, or leave the road entirely.
Commercial vehicles are also dangerous because of the hazardous nature of the freight that they transport. If improperly loaded, even relatively harmless cargo can cause a truck to roll over or jackknife, while heavy cargo, such as metal or timber, can even come loose during a collision, scattering across the road and causing severe injuries. In some cases, the freight itself is actually hazardous and flammable. Agricultural pesticides, gasoline, industrial chemicals, radioactive materials, and ethanol are all potentially hazardous substances that are transported via commercial vehicle every day.
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