According to industry statistics, about 500,000 truck-related accidents occur yearly in the United States. Worldwide, millions of crashes involving trucks are reported.
The FMCSA reports Michigan historically has a slightly-higher-than-average fatality rate from large truck accidents, making it important for Michigan drivers of any type of vehicle to understand some basic facts about trucks and the hazards of sharing the road with them.
In this blog article, we summarize some important facts about large trucks, and the accidents they cause, so you may hopefully be cautious around them.
We know due to the growing number of trucks on U.S., highways and roads truck crashes will continue to happen. In some cases, we find a trucking company has a practice of paying compensation to truck driver for faster driving and longer operating time. In order to grow the bottom line, a trucker driver may be given an incentive to violate the posted speed limits and ignore federal regulations concerning maximum driving hours. Trucking companies can also be held accountable for truck accidents if they fail to:
- Perform Hire Background Check
- Properly train new truck drivers
- Regularly inspect, maintain, and repair the fleet trucks
- Provide adequate Truck Driver Safety training
- Allow drivers to follow a realistic time schedule
Negligent hiring and retention of the truck driver is a common problem in the trucking industry that often leads to liability.
What Are Common Causes Of Delivery Truck Accidents?
Our country has gone from basic mail trucks, garbage trucks, and ice cream trucks to today’s abundant on-line shopping delivery trucks operating daily in our neighborhoods 27/7. Due to the ever-growing use of on-demand goods purchases, our once safe residential neighborhoods are quickly becoming danger zones, especially for our children.
You see delivery vehicles such as Amazon trucks, FedEx trucks, DHL trucks and United Parcel Service trucks (UPS) almost daily. There is a growing number of delivery trucks and with the rising number of these types of commercial trucks, we are seeing more and more accidents involving passenger cars, motorcycles, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
Like drivers of eighteen-wheeler trucks over the road long haul in America, the relentless pressure that these drivers face by their employers to “race the clock” can lead to negligent, reckless and even careless driving habits.
Commercial Delivery truck accidents commonly happen when:
- Maneuvering after missing delivery address. While maneuvering a delivery truck driver makes the mistake that many other drivers often make, such as failing to check blind spots, making inappropriate lane changes, or driving while distracted by a smartphone GPS or on-board computer.
- Delivery truck driver fails to set the parking brake, causing the vehicle to freely roll.
On the highways and roadways, delivery truck accidents are possible by the actions or omissions of the driver in these situations:
- Delivery truck driver exceeding the speed limit.
- Delivery truck driver disobeys traffic signs
- Delivery truck driver is distracted texting, using a cellphone, or other distraction.
- Delivery truck driver is traveling too fast for weather or road traffic conditions.
- Delivery truck driver is fatigued.
- Delivery truck was not properly loaded and secured, so the cargo shifts
- Delivery truck driver’s vehicle experiences an equipment failure
Large Trucks can be up to seven times longer and weigh 30 times more than a typical passenger car, which requires a big rig exponentially more time to come to a stop or change direction. The force and mass of the impact is enormous, and the extent of the injuries may be severe, permanent, and often fatal.
“In 2017, there were 36 million trucks registered and used for business purposes (excluding government and farming), representing 24% of all trucks registered. This included 3.68 million Class 8 (heavy) trucks, such as truck tractors and dump trucks.” (American Trucking Associations, 2020) (Source: https://driving-tests.org/driving-statistics/)
According to the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety, “A total of 4,119 people died in large truck crashes in 2019. Sixteen percent of these deaths were truck occupants, 67 percent were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles, and 15 percent were pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists. The number of people who died in large truck crashes was 31 percent higher in 2019 than in 2009, when it was the lowest it has been since the collection of fatal crash data began in 1975. The number of truck occupants who died was 51 percent higher than in 2009.”
Statistics show that the occupants of passenger vehicles are more likely to die in a truck crash than the large truck occupant. Regardless of fault, the truck appears to cause greater devastation and damage due to its size and weight.
On Michigan roads and highways this becomes a dangerous problem due to driving behaviors increasing the overall likelihood of a collision between a car and a truck. In the Annual Michigan Traffic Crash Facts Report produced in collaboration with the The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute shows us from 2020, established the following facts about motor vehicle accidents:
- The 2020 fatality rate of 1.25 deaths per 100 million miles of travel is an increase from the 2019 fatality rate of 0.96 and is higher than the 10-year average of 1.01 (2011-2020).
- There were 1,083 people killed and 60,986 people injured in 245,432 reported motor vehicle traffic crashes in Michigan during 2020. Compared with the 2019 experience, the number of deaths increased 9.9 percent, people injured decreased 18.6 percent, and total reported crashes decreased 21.9 percent.
- There were 245,432 reported crashes, of which 1,010 were fatal, 44,417 were personal injury, and 200,005 were property damage only crashes.
- Of all fatal crashes, 31.2 percent occurred at intersections.
- Of all fatal crashes, 30.0 percent involved at least one drinking operator, bicyclist, or pedestrian, 17.0 percent involved drinking but no drugs, 11.8 percent involved drugs but no drinking, and 13.0 percent involved both drinking and drugs.
- Excessive speed was indicated as the hazardous action for 11.7 percent of the drivers involved in fatal crashes.
- Of the 245,432 total crashes in 2020, 96,821 (39.4%) involved one vehicle only. This is a decrease of 11.5 percent from last year's count of 109,398 single-vehicle crashes.
- Of the 1,010 fatal crashes, 515 (51.0%) involved one vehicle.
- Of the 303-alcohol related fatal crashes, 182 (60.1%) involved one vehicle. This is a 2.8 percent increase from last year's figure of 177 single vehicle, alcohol-involved fatal crashes.
- Of the 1,626 drivers involved in fatal crashes, 128 (7.9%) were under 21 years of age and 273 (16.8%) were under 25 years of age.
- The pedestrian death toll for Michigan stands at 175 people, an increase of 26 deaths from 2019.
- For each pedestrian killed, there were 8 pedestrians injured.
- Of all pedestrians killed, 6.3 percent were under the age of 21 and 11.4 percent were age 75 and over.
- The bicyclist death toll in 2020 for Michigan stands at 38, an increase of 17 deaths from 2019.
- In 2020 the youngest bicycle fatality was age 1. People under the age of 21 accounted for 7.9 percent of the bicycle deaths.
Why Do Truck Accidents Occur?
Truck accidents result from any number of potential causes. These are some of the most common reasons truck accidents happen:
- Driver error or misjudgment
- Truck drivers hold a commercial driver license, and extensive training, and therefore should be held to a higher standard of safety than other car drivers.
- Truckers fail to follow the posted rules of the road, and/or the mandatory federal motor carrier safety regulations adopted by Michigan for their professional truck driver license, every individual in the public including drivers, pedestrians, and motorcyclists are in danger.
- Poor Truck Maintenance
- Commercial vehicles have a lot of wear and tear because of the nature of the abuse and therefore require regular maintenance schedule and thorough inspections. Failure to repair brakes, replace cracked windshields, and replace old worn-out tires can become disaster when traveling at high speed on a busy highway.
- Truck Equipment Failure
- Despite high spending on extravagantly equip trucks, there are times when equipment fails suddenly, or a component of a part will be defective. In this instance, liability can be found with the motor carrier, parts manufacturer, the mechanic who inspected or installed the parts, truck manufacturer, or the truck dealer.
- Improperly securing or loading Cargo
- Overloaded Trucks cause accidents.
Dangerously loading cargo in a semi truck, tanker truck, or even a tow truck can cause truck accidents. Michigan and Federal regulations have guidelines, which specifically set requirements for the size, weight, width, length, and height of the loaded cargo. Additionally, there are detailed requirements for properly securing the load. Mistakes, negligence, or carelessness with the loading process can bring about deadly truck accidents.
Due to internet enabled computer monitors and advances in technology, truck owners and trucking companies can monitor the condition of the vehicle.
Innovative transportation technologies like fleet telematics and GPS tracking systems generally provide help to truck safety:
- Ensuring regulatory compliance
- Increasing truck driver safety
- Monitoring truck performance
- Improve trucking fleet security and safety.
What Kinds Of Trucks?
Trucks have evolved over the past century into commercial vehicles that provide
Transportation for every purpose. Some examples of commercial motor vehicles are:
- Gravel Hauling Truck - A dump truck, known also as a dumping truck, dump trailer, dumper trailer, dump lorry or dumper lorry or a dumper for short, is used for transporting materials (such as dirt, gravel, or demolition waste) for construction as well as coal.
- Boat hauling Truck – a low loader truck specifically designed to transport large watercraft
- Car carrier Truck – Often double-decker vehicles used to move multiple cars from the manufacturers to dealerships across America
- Concrete truck Hauler – Is basically a concrete mixer on wheels
- Reefers – Are refrigerated commercial truck vehicles used to deliver and keep perishable foods like meat, produce, poultry and fish fresh
- Crane Truck – A truck that has a crane permanently attached to the truck which is used to load and unload cargo from the truck.
- Fire truck – an automotive vehicle equipped with firefighting apparatus.
- Breakdown lorry – truck that attached equipment on the back used to tow away vehicles.
- Flatbed Truck – A large vehicle with rear cargo holding flat body and no sides or roof around the bed, used to carry cargo.
- Livestock Truck – A truck designed to carry livestock, usually ventilated for transport of animals
- Logging Truck – large truck designed and used to carry lumber of logs
- Tanker Truck – a truck with a tank attached to the truck, used to transport gases or liquids, as oil, gasoline, or milk, in bulk.• Dump Truck – a commercial truck for the transportation of bulk material such as dirt or garbage that has a body which tilts to dump its contents.
What speed can an injury occur?
Research proves that a motor vehicle accident of as little speed as 5 MPH can produce a “whiplash-type” injury. It depends on a lot of factors such as where the victim of the car accident is seated, location of impact, position of injured, crashworthiness of the vehicle, size of the vehicles involved, activity of injured person at time of impact, etc.
How Many Trucks In America?
There are an estimated of 15.5 million semi trucks operate in the U.S., and collectively they record an estimated 140 billion miles each year according to the Truck Driving Institute.
What Are Some Common Types of Truck Accidents?
The types of Truck Accidents are wide and varied. Here are some of the more common types of truck accidents:
T-bone and Head-on – Truck accidents involving side-impact (T-bone) and head-on collisions cause the most severe devastating and damage.
Jackknife – Truck driver can lose control of a large truck, the trailer can swing, shift, skid, and end up at a 90-degree angle. Jackknife type of accident often results in blocking lanes of traffic and multiple car pileup, which can cause severe injuries to passengers in cars.
Rear-end accident – Truck driver following too closely behind another vehicle, can make it highly probable that a rear-end accident will occur, when the vehicle ahead brakes suddenly or slows down. Even minimal physical damage in the rear of the passenger car accident can cause serious injuries due to the enormous weight of a large truck.
Trailer Under-Ride – Trucks slamming on the brakes, smaller vehicles behind the truck can become trapped under the trucks trailer, often resulting in severe damage to the car passenger vehicle and its passengers.
Blind Spots Sideswipes – Large trucks have large blind spots called “no-zones.” Truckers sometimes neglect their blind spots beside them when turning or switch lanes, causing life threatening injuries or fatal accidents.
What Injuries Do Truck Accidents Cause?
The injuries caused by truck accidents can be devastating and painful, with the long-term effects leading to mental and physical impairments. The injuries resulting from a large commercial vehicle collision and a passenger car can last a lifetime. Some of these common injuries include:
- Neck and back injuries. Regardless of a large trucks speed, the huge mass compared to a passenger car can cause severe injuries to your neck and back. These neck and back injuries can include:
- Whiplash. This occurs when force suddenly hyperextends your head causing the muscles, tendons, and connective tissues in your neck to stretch and tear.
- Herniated or bulging discs. The physical trauma of truck accident injuries can cause herniated discs, which occur when the gelatinous material between inside each disc between vertebrae is torn and comes out contacting nearby nerves, causing extreme pain or discomfort. A bulging disc occurs when the outer edge of a disc is deformed beyond the vertebrae, which can also be severely painful.
- Neck fractures. The force of a truck accident can cause a fracture or break in any number of bones in your neck (vertebrae).
- Spinal cord injuries. Spinal cord injuries can alter your life in a split second. Spinal cord injuries can lead to lifelong complications. Some spinal cord injuries can result in partial or total paralysis. Types of spinal cord injuries can be:
- Quadriplegia. This is the most severe type of spinal cord injury because you are paralyzed in all four limbs.
- Paraplegia. This injury leads to paralysis of the two legs and lower body or two arms and upper body.
- •riplegia. This type of spinal cord injury causes loss of movement or paralysis in three limbs.
- Brain and head injuries. The head is one of most important parts of the human body, so a sudden hit or shaking movement caused by a collision with a semi truck can lead to a wide range of closed head and brain injuries. The types of head injuries can be:
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The brain can be damaged when the head strikes an object such as the steering wheel, headrest, dashboard, or window. Symptoms of a TBI can range from mild to severe and can even cause a loss of consciousness or memory loss and death.
- Open head injuries. An open head injury occurs when a sudden hit breaks open the skull or when an object, penetrates the skull and brain.
- Closed head injuries. These are defined as any injury to the head that does not penetrate the skull, which can cause bruising on the brain, a concussion, or microscopic bleeding of the brain.
- Burns and disfigurement. Large trucks can carry thousands of pounds of gas, chemicals, and other dangerous liquified materials. These flammable substances can cause severe reactions such as vapor and burns to a driver’s skin if they come in contact with the chemical from the truck. A car accident victim can suffer first degree burns, second degree burns, third degree burns, or fourth degree burns from the semi truck’s chemical spill, fuel leak or even explosion. The burns can cause disfigurement that changes an accident victim’s appearance.
- Amputation. Big rigs can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. The sheer size and weight can easily crush a passenger vehicle and result in catastrophic amputation of limbs. Whether an amputation resulted from the semi truck crushing or slicing a victim’s limb, an amputation can permanently alter the life of the victim and his family.
- Internal Injuries. Semi-truck collisions with a passenger car, can cause passengers in the smaller vehicle to sustain several types of internal bodily injuries. These truck accident injuries can include just about any internal organ. Common internal injuries in big rig semi truck accidents include:
- Hemothorax. Blood collects in the space between the chest wall and lungs.
- Hemopericardium and cardiac tamponade. Hemopericardium refer to blood in the pericardial sac of the heart. It is clinically similar to a pericardial effusion, and, depending on the volume and rapidity with which it develops, may cause cardiac tamponade. Cardiac tamponade is a serious condition where the heart is compressed by the accumulated blood, leading to heart failure.
- Liver or spleen lacerations or other organ perforations (tears). Truck accident can cause liver or spleen ruptures, hemorrhages, and shock.
- Cuts, bruises, lacerations, and broken bones. Truck accidents can debris or objects like shards of glass to cause cuts, bruises, lacerations, and broken bones.
- Chest and torso injuries. Semi truck collisions with a passenger vehicle can cause injuries to the chest or torso regions. Commonly seen torso injuries include:
- Rib fractures. A rib fracture of the chest caused by an object hitting or seat belt tightening, forcing to damage the ribcage. Rib cage injuries are very painful injuries.
- Flail chest. In this type of chest wall injury, part of the chest is detached from the rest. Detached chest part may result in pulmonary contusions, which can be fatal.
- Soft tissue injuries. Physical trauma to any body part can cause soft tissue injuries to the muscles and ligaments. Common types of soft tissue injuries include muscle tear or stretching, sprains, strains, and contusions.
- Death. Semi truck accident negligence is well known to be a leading cause of highway traffic accident deaths, which can be prevented.
What Is The Size of The Trucking Industry?
The trucking industry provides vital services to our economy. The United States trucking industry is one of the largest revenue streams in the nation's economy and is responsible for transporting approximately 70 percent of all goods in the U.S. In 2019, the trucking industry had total revenue of $791 Billion Dollars. Large commercial vehicles have a successful history of providing transportation for consumer goods, manufactured goods, building supplies, food, water, and pharmaceutical products all over the United States.
What Are Some Safety Tips to Avoid Being the Victim of a Truck Accident?
Commercial truck drivers and passenger vehicle drivers alike have the responsibility to try to uphold safety standards and obey the rules of the road. We all need to be more proactive and practice defensive driving when sharing the road with commercial trucks.
Some Safety tips are:
- Don’t follow too close
- Don’t pass on the right-hand side of a truck• Avoid making sudden stops
- Stay out of the No Zones
- Be aware the Truck Driver must clear the no zones
- Pass safely
- Stay back
- Don’t cut in too close in front of another vehicle
- Anticipate Wide Turns
- Buckle up
- Stay Focused
- Don’t drive fatigued
- Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Avoid distractions while driving
- Always use your turn signals
Remember, you should use caution in weather conditions that adversely affect the safe driving ability of all vehicles on the road. Best practices are adjusting your speed and distance accordingly when there is snow, ice, rain, or fog affecting visibility or traction.
MICHIGAN BEST TRUCK ACCIDENT INJURY EXPERT LAWYERS
If you, or a family member, have been involved in a truck accident, seek legal help, from an experienced truck accident attorney. Here is your knowledgeable and effective trucking lawyer:
CALL US TODAY FOR A FREE EXPERIENCED TRUCK INJURY ACCIDENT ATTORNEY CASE EVALUATION BY AN AWARD-WINNING INJURY LAWYER- 248-352-2110 or Toll Free 1-866-447-3563.