When a semi-truck is involved in multiple vehicle crashes, the vehicle creates lethal dangers that can seriously injure or kill anyone in the path of the vehicle. Multiple vehicle accidents are becoming more common in America and each year more motorists are seriously injured or killed in these collisions.
Causes of Multi-Vehicle Truck Accidents
Multi-vehicle accidents involving semi-trucks are caused by a number of factors, including the following:
In 2013, it was estimated that there were 256 million cars, and 15.5 million semi-trucks traveling down American roads. These numbers have been steadily increasing since the Federal Highway Administration and Bureau of Transportation began tracking them in 1960. While some roads have been enlarged to meet the increased demand these vehicles place on the nation’s infrastructure, the reality is that many roads have not been enlarged to handle the increased traffic. The result is traffic congestion that places passenger vehicles into close proximity with large semi-trucks that can easily run them over.
Speed is another leading factor of multi-vehicle accidents involving semi-trucks. A fully loaded semi-truck can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. A truck at this weight traveling at 65 miles per hour requires 525 feet to come to a complete stop. Even at a lower speed of 40 mph, a semi-truck requires 169 feet to come to a complete stop. If the vehicle is speeding, or traveling without the required stopping distance in front of the semi-truck, then it will strike the back of the vehicle in front of them. The impact of such collision can cause serious damage to the first vehicle, and easily push it into other vehicles causing a multi-vehicle pile-up.
Ice, snow, and rain can reduce the traction of any vehicle. If a semi-truck loses traction, then the driver can easily lose control over the vehicle’s direction. When this happens, a semi-truck can skid out of control, topple over the median, or jackknife across the lanes of traffic. Any vehicles in the path of the semi-truck can be pushed aside, trapped beneath the semi-truck, or crushed when the semi-truck essentially drives over it. Additionally, poor visibility can impact depth perception. Fog, rain, and poorly lit roads can cause a driver to misjudge the distance between their vehicle and other vehicles on the road.
Good tires and reliable brakes are required to bring any vehicle to a complete stop. When a semi-truck’s tires or brake pads are worn away, they cannot perform efficiently. This can increase a vehicle’s stopping distance and make it impossible for a driver to stop before a collision occurs. Further, if a driver ignores warning lights indicating his brakes are too hot, then they may lock up and lead to complete failure of the braking system.
Other Drivers at Greatest Risk
Drivers of passenger vehicles, small trucks, vans, and motorcycles represent 73% of fatalities in accidents involving semi-trucks. By comparison, only 18% of truck drivers suffer a fatality following a truck accident. The dramatic difference is due largely to the extensive size of a semi-truck, and the protection the vehicle’s large engine and vehicle’s sturdy construction create.
Illinois Roads Particularly Dangerous
In the past five years, the state has recorded 600 fatalities involving large trucks. The most recent averages show that 130 drivers are killed in the truck related collisions each year and authorities are concerned that these numbers will continue to climb. For comparison, each year nearly 3,900 people die nationwide in accidents involving large trucks. The most recent accident occurred in LaSalle County when four large trucks collided with one another. During the collision, one of the smaller trucks was sandwiched between the larger semi-trucks. This caused the death of the driver. LaSalle County is one of the most dangerous counties in the state for truck accident related fatalities.
Chain Reactions Create a Chain of Suffering
Multi-vehicle collisions are sometimes referred to as chain reaction accidents by Chicago truck accident lawyers. Individuals injured in multi-vehicle collisions involving large trucks are at significant risk for serious injury or death. In 2013, 111,000 drivers and passengers in passenger vehicles were injured in collisions with large trucks. A further 3,903 were killed. Nearly 50% of the truck drivers involved in these accidents were between the ages of 46 to 65; a statistic that shows that experience offers little protection from causing a multi-vehicle truck accident.
Individuals involved in a multi-vehicle truck accident can suffer compound injuries including multiple broken bones, whiplash, damage to the spinal cord, and severe internal injuries. Individuals may be trapped within their vehicles and exposed to toxic fumes, or they may be crushed by the weight of the larger vehicle as it comes to rest upon them. Because the injuries and potential loss of life is significant, it’s a risk drivers need to pay close attention to as they drive down the road.