America needs semi-trucks. These vehicles transport all kinds of products around the country. Without them cruising along the highways, we’d have a much tougher time purchasing things like fresh produce in grocery stores.
One issue with semi-trucks, though, is that they’re one of the largest vehicles on the road. Because they are always so much larger than the average vehicle, like a family car, if you get in a semi-truck accident, it might injure or kill you. The solution is to be very careful when you’re anywhere near one of these trucks that are probably so much larger and heavier than what you’re driving.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at this issue.
What’s Likely to Cause One of These Accidents?
There’s an institution called the Federal Motor Carrier Association. They state that in the past 40 years, 3,000-4,000 fatal semi-truck accidents have occurred. These accidents injure between 130,000-150,000 people each year.
Those are stats that quickly get your attention, and they reinforce how serious these accidents can be. In just the state of Massachusetts, somewhere between 17 and 35 people die each year in truck accidents.
As for what causes them, mechanical error is sometimes a problem. If something does go wrong with a truck, it can veer out of control and strike another vehicle, pedestrian, or cyclist.
Human causes are more likely, though. For instance, driver fatigue often plays a part. The driver might try to go longer behind the wheel than they should because they’re trying to finish a long trip’s later stages.
Alcohol consumption sometimes causes truck accidents. The driver might also ingest illegal drugs. These drivers know better than to do either of those things, but they’re human, and they sometimes make poor decisions.
What Else Can Cause One of These Wrecks?
Other things sometimes cause semi-truck accidents as well. Driver distraction can certainly be an issue. Many things might distract a driver, such as food they’re eating, a smartphone that rings and they try to answer it, or an interesting billboard that causes them to take their eyes away from the lane ahead for just a few seconds.
Sometimes, a driver makes a poor decision, such as trying to switch lanes when it’s not safe to do so. Any driver can make this type of error, but when that driver is operating a vehicle the size of a semi-truck, this simple mistake can turn deadly in a hurry.
Weather or road conditions are another possible accident cause that’s worth mentioning. If there does happen to be snow or ice on the road, the driver might lose control of the vehicle. If it’s raining hard, their visibility might not be as good. They may not see an obstacle until it’s too late to stop the truck entirely.
In bad weather, truck drivers should know to slow down, but again, maybe they’re rushing to reach their destination by a certain deadline. Truck drivers hurrying to drop off or pick up a load is one of the likeliest crash causes.
What Injuries Can These Accidents Cause?
The average semi-truck weighs about 20 times what a family car does. When something like that hits your vehicle, you can just imagine how devastating it can be. Even if this size vehicle only nudges your car, it can permanently injure you in some cases.
Whiplash is a common injury that can occur. Your head and neck snap abruptly back and forth with great velocity when a truck hits you from behind. You may need to take several weeks to recover, during which time you might have your neck in a brace.
You can break your bones in these accidents as well. If a truck hits you from the side or head-on, and the impact throws you out of the vehicle, you can break arms, legs, or other body parts. Even if you’re wearing a seatbelt, the car crumpling around you can break one of your limbs if the impact is severe enough.
Head injuries can often occur if your head strikes the steering wheel or the dashboard. Brain injuries are possible then. TBIs can be either mild or severe, but in the worst cases, a semi-truck accident can leave you a vegetable.
Internal trauma is one more possibility. You might have debris that pierces your body. If that happens, it can lacerate your internal organs.
Whether you survive or not often depends on how fast emergency medical personnel can get to you and take you to a nearby hospital where they can look you over to determine what’s wrong. They might need to use the jaws of life to cut through the wreckage to reach you in some instances.
What Steps Should Drivers Take to Avoid These Accidents?
At this point, you might feel frightened about ever getting back out on the road again. If you know that these gigantic trucks are everywhere, and these accidents sometimes take place, is it even safe for you to drive?
The reality is that threats exist in the world, and there’s nothing you can ever do that will completely circumvent them. However, you can take a common-sense approach that will make it less likely one of these trucks will strike you.
The essntial thing to remember is that if you stay away from these trucks, they can’t hit you. It could be that you’re stuck in a traffic jam right next to one, and if so, it’s going to be tough for you to get away from it. Apart from that, though, it’s helpful if you speed up and pass one of these trucks if it’s close to you on the highway, or you can slow down and let it pass you.
If you respect these larger vehicles and keep your distance whenever you encounter one, that will go a very long way toward keeping you safe. Know where the truck’s blind spots are, and don’t travel directly behind, in front of, or alongside one.