Most deaths in large truck crashes are passenger vehicle occupants. The main problem is the vulnerability of people traveling in smaller vehicles. Trucks often weigh 20-30 times as much as passenger cars and are taller with greater ground clearance, which can result in smaller vehicles under-riding trucks in crashes.
Truck braking capability can be a factor in truck crashes. Loaded tractor-trailers take 20-40 percent farther than cars to stop, and the discrepancy is greater on wet and slippery roads or with poorly maintained brakes. Truck driver fatigue also is a known crash risk. Drivers of large trucks are allowed by federal hours-of-service regulations to drive up to 11 hours at a stretch and up to 77 hours over a seven-day period.
According to IIHS.org, a total of 3,660 people died in large truck crashes in 2014. Sixteen percent of these deaths were truck occupants, 68 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 16 percent higher in 2014 than in 2009, when it was lower than at any year since the collection of fatal crash data began in 1975. The number of truck occupants who died was 31 percent higher than in 2009. Since 1979, when deaths in large truck crashes were at an all time high, there has been a greater percentage decline among occupants of large trucks (57 percent) than among occupants of passenger vehicles (41 percent).
I therefore find it reassuring to know that Florida Highway Patrol has been out recently checking the brakes on big rigs that may be on the road with faulty equipment. Troopers were looking for any violations that commercial vehicles may have that would prevent them from operating safely on the roads. Inspections include a full walk around inspection checking lights, tires, and braking system. Florida Highway Patrol spokesman told WJHG Channel 7 that there is a lot of mechanisms that work to help this truck move down the highway and stop on the highway.” Troopers direct drivers to pull into an inspection area so they can go underneath and inspect the vehicle. They make sure the vehicles are in compliance with state standards. Lt. King says if just 20 percent of the brake system is out of service the vehicle could be a danger on the road. “When you realize these are 80,000 to 90,000 pound vehicles going down the highway,” said Lt. King, “and if they become separated of the brakes don’t work properly it could create mass chaos out here on the highway.”
In March troopers investigated an accident in Jackson County where a semi collided into a bus. That collision sent one bus into the back of another bus. Lt. King says the school system and the investigators of the crash asked troopers to ensure that the bus and semi were working properly.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a car accident with a semi-truck, contact us at Brannon & Brannon for a free consultation at (850)659-2252 or through our website at brannoncanhelp.com.