When a traffic accident happens involving a truck or 18-wheeler, the massive size of the vehicle can contribute to catastrophic injury and death. A fully loaded commercial truck can weigh up to 40 tons, compared to 2 tons for the average passenger car. When the truck is hauling hazardous chemicals or highly flammable material, a collision can result in severe secondary injuries and death in a post-collision fire or explosion.
In 2017, accidents involving large trucks killed nearly 5,000 Americans, and tens of thousands more were injured. A majority of the trucks that were in fatal accidents were large tractor-trailers, and more than 70% of those who were killed were car or other vehicle occupants. Large trucks account for only 4% of the 268 million vehicles on the road, and yet they are involved in one in ten highway deaths.
The high cost of burn injuries and death
Almost two-thirds of car fire deaths from 2013 to 2017 resulted from fires that were caused by collisions and related events, and 79% of deaths from large truck fires were caused by collisions. The fact that most of these fire events occurred on highways or divided highways suggests a connection between fires and high-speed impacts. Large truck fires also caused $281 million in direct property damage.
Although most car fire fatalities started with fires that began with a flammable or combustible liquid or gas, large truck fires were more likely to begin with the ignition of a tire. Brake and wheel bearing failures can cause tire ignitions, as well as flat or underinflated tires.
Common causes of fatal truck crashes
The most common causes of fatal crashes are driver error, such as:
- Distracted driving
- Failure to yield right of way
- Impaired driving from substances or fatigue
- Careless driving
Driver fatigue is a significant factor in many truck crashes, and there are frequent violations of strict federal safety regulations that limit the number of consecutive hours, hours driven in a week and the number of rest breaks. Although alcohol use is less common, over-the-counter drug use and stimulants also contribute to truck accidents.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious injury due to the negligent actions of a truck driver, it is important to contact experienced and caring legal counsel serving Dallas and throughout Texas, that will work tirelessly to ensure that you receive the compensation for loss or severe injuries that you deserve.