Passenger cars in the United States share the roadways with an estimated two million semi-tractor trailers driven by an estimated 3.5 million truck drivers. While 18-wheelers might blend into the scenery in the eyes of many motorists because of their omnipresence and familiarity on highways, their potential for causing catastrophe is far more noticeable when fully understood.
According to statistics compiled by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, an estimated 80 percent of truck-involved accidents are the fault of the non-commercial driver who failed to respect the tremendous danger inherent in such large and lumbering vehicles.
Commercial trucks consisting of a tractor pulling a trailer can exceed 68 feet in length and weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Traveling at 60 miles per hour, a fully loaded truck takes approximately 350 feet to stop once brakes are applied, and imparts over 20 times the destructive energy of an average car on impact. This figure does not include the reaction time in the brain of the driver or the delay of approximately one half second that is an inherent characteristics of air brakes. Because of this, truck drivers are trained to maintain a safe distance behind other vehicles equal to a base of three seconds plus one additional second for every 10 miles per hour of speed.
Forcing Unsafe Following Distance
Careless motorists entering into a lane in front of a truck at unsafe proximity are a leading cause of commercial vehicle crashes. During the critical moments before the truck driver can increase the following distance to a safe range, hazards in the road can force unexpected slowing or stopping of relatively nimble cars at a rate much faster than that of the truck. Impact results. Considering the extreme weight, sluggish deceleration, and potential for destruction, wise motorists maintain safe distances in front of trucks moving at highway speeds.
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When a truck turns around a corner, the rear tires of the trailer do not follow the same path as the tractor, but rather lag to the inside of the turning curve. Because of this, trucks must occupy greater width of roadways when turning corners, and unlike cars, are allowed by law to drive over painted lane boundaries while turning. To prevent the rear tires of the trailer from rolling off the roadway and over curbs, trucks execute right turns from a distance of several feet away from the curb.
Another common accident pattern involves impatient drivers of passenger cars who fail to realize that a truck is setting up to turn right around a corner. The driver of the car will attempt to pass on the right side, in the space created by the driver in between the truck and the side of the street, and eventually makes contact with the side of the trailer as the truck executes the turn. In all 50 states, it is illegal to pass a truck on the right side.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident, whether commercial driver or general motorist, learn your rights, protect your driving record, and demand compensation for damages and personal injury. Call an experienced Kennessaw accident and personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Roger Ghai, P.C. for a confidential consultation.