How Truck Driver Accidents Differ from Car Accidents

Based on the most recent federal data, over 500,000 crashes involving trucks occurred in the US in 2018. Such incidents include property damage-only crashes and collisions resulting in injuries. Unfortunately, however, they also include 4,862 fatal crashes.

Now, it’s true that fewer truck driver crashes occur compared to car collisions. However, the consequences resulting from accidents involving trucks can be far more catastrophic.

To that end, we came up with this guide comparing truck vs. car accident cases and light vehicle crashes. Read on to discover what they are, as this knowledge may also help you prevent such accidents.

More People Die in Passenger Vehicle Crashes Than in Trucks

According to the NHTSA’s preliminary estimates, 38,680 people died in road crashes in 2020. Of these, 60% were passenger car occupants, representing 23,395 fatalities. That’s a projected increase of 5% from the previous year.

On the other hand, the NHTSA projects fatalities in crashes involving large trucks to drop by 2%.

In an earlier separate report, the IIHS estimated that truck driver accidents led to 4,119 deaths in 2019. These fatalities involved 4,113 large trucks. By contrast, there were 40,316 passenger vehicles involved in fatal accidents.

One reason for that huge difference is that there are more light vehicles than large trucks. There are, after all, over 253 million registered light vehicles in the US. By contrast, there are only a little over 13 million registered trucks in operation.

That’s why more people in light vehicles get involved in injurious and fatal road crashes.

Truck Accidents Are More Likely to Cause Serious Injuries

By federal definition, a US commercial motor vehicle has a gross weight of 10,0001 pounds or more. This definition applies to medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks. Class 3 trucks, for instance, weigh at least 10,0001 lbs, while Class 8 vehicles weigh at least 33,001 lbs.

By contrast, passenger vehicles, such as sedans, SUVs, and even minivans, weigh less than 5,000 lbs. With all its bells and whistles, the average pick-up truck weighs a bit more, at 5,217 lbs.

So, even the lightest commercial truck can already weigh at least twice more than a passenger car. That goes up to almost seven times if you compare Class 8 trucks with smaller vehicles.

It’s because of that mass and size that large truck accidents can cause more severe injuries. These include back and neck injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and fractures. Lacerations, internal injuries, and spinal cord injuries are also common.

Crashes Involving Trucks Injure More Non-Truck Occupants

In 2019, truck accidents in the US resulted in an estimated 46,000 truck occupant injuries. The victims include the drivers themselves and their passengers. That’s already a lot, but that’s only 28.7% of the total number of people injured in these crashes.

That’s because 68.8% of the injured individuals are the occupants of the other vehicles. That translates to an estimated 110,000 people. This count includes drivers and passengers of the vehicles involved in the crash.

A Truck Driver Isn’t Always the Only One at Fault in a Crash

According to this article, everyone involved in a crash must exchange insurance details. However, if one of the motorists is a truck driver, you must also get the name of their company. Moreover, you need to obtain the direct contact details of the trucker’s employer.

You must take all those steps since truck drivers aren’t always the only ones liable for crashes. For example, the truck driver’s employer may have been neglecting the truck’s maintenance. In this case, the law may also hold the trucker’s employer accountable for the accident.

The party itself responsible for fleet maintenance may also be liable. For instance, they may be at fault if they fail to fix damaged or defective parts when they should have.

Cargo companies may also be partially liable if they overloaded a truck that got involved in a crash. Overloaded trucks, after all, are far less stable, so they can quickly lose their balance.

Another example is if the truck’s manufacturer itself may be to blame. This can happen if some of the integral parts of the truck itself are defective.

Truck Drivers Can Be Victims Too

There’s no denying the fact that a large truck can quickly crush a smaller vehicle on impact. However, this doesn’t mean all truck drivers cause accidents due to their own mistakes. In some cases, the drivers of the smaller vehicles are the ones who committed driving errors.

Now, keep in mind that the larger and the higher a truck is, the more blind spots it has. This is in direct contrast to the belief that because trucks are higher, their drivers can see more. This assumption is one of the reasons passenger cars get involved in truck accidents.

The truth is, truck drivers have larger blind spots than drivers of smaller vehicles. These areas include the areas directly in front, to the side, and behind the truck. Driving by the right side of a truck is especially dangerous.

With that said, passenger car drivers should always give truck drivers ample space. This is particularly important when a truck is making a turn. Never pass a turning truck, as your vehicle can get sandwiched between the curb and the truck.

Moreover, it’s crucial to maintain at least a four-second distance from the truck in front of you. For starters, fully-loaded trucks require a vast amount of space to get to a complete stop. So, if you drive too fast and too close to a large truck, you can hit it from behind if it has to stop.

Mind Your Distance to Avoid Getting Into a Truck Accident

Whether you’re a new or veteran driver, always give a truck driver in front, beside, or behind you enough space. Remember that these motorists are carrying loads far heavier than you and your car. That’s enough reason to always keep a safe distance from their large, heavy vehicles.

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