Important Facts about Big Truck Accidents

Posted in Truck Wreck on October 19, 2017

In August 2017, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published its 2017 Pocket Guide to Large Truck and Bus Statistics. The FMCSA is a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and it’s in charge of governing and regulating the nation’s trucking industry.

The pocket guide is released annually and contains important information about the trucking industry, including its growth. A few important statistics released by the FMCSA regarding the size of the trucking industry include:

  • 2,746,882 – That’s the number of multi-unit tractor-trailers that were in operation in the U.S. in 2015. Nearly 8.5 million single-unit trucks were also on American roadways that year. In comparison, there were 236,610,219 total vehicles registered in the U.S. in 2015. That means that while big trucks are plentiful and common on the nation’s highways and interstates, they’re still much less common than passenger cars, trucks, and SUVs.
  • 8 billion – The total number of miles traveled by big trucks in 2015. All vehicles in the U.S. traveled 3,095.4 billion miles that year, which means big trucks constituted nine-percent of all miles logged in the country in 2015. In comparison, the number of big trucks in the U.S. only comprised around four-percent of all registered vehicles in the U.S.
  • 415,000 – The number of crashes involving large trucks in 2015. In comparison, there were 317,000 crashes involving large trucks in 2012, 327,000 in 2013, and 411,000 in 2014. As the number of big trucks on America’s roadways and the number of miles they travel increase, the number of accidents also increases.

Combine these statistics with the fact that multi-unit tractor-trailers can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and can be up to 51-feet in length and it’s easy to see why drivers of smaller passenger vehicles face significant dangers when they’re involved in accidents with big trucks.

What Are Common Causes of Big Truck Accidents?

The FMCSA’s Pocket Guide to Truck Accidents also includes statistics concerning truck driver violations and vehicle violations. Many of the most common violations are also among the top causes of truck accidents in the U.S. Some important statistics released by the FMCSA concerning driver violations include:

  • 114,868 – That’s how many hours of service violations were reported during roadside inspections in 2016. That number includes violations of the 8-hour limit when driving since the end of last off-duty or sleeper period of at least 30 minutes, driving beyond 14-hour duty period, and driving beyond 11-hour driving limit in a 14-hour period.
  • 111,322 – The number of traffic citations issued for speeding violations in 2016. 67,487 of the citations were issued for driving 6-10 miles per hour above the speed limit, 28,335 were issued for driving 11-14 miles per hour above the speed limit, and 15,510 were issued for driving 15 miles per hour or more above the speed limit.
  • 20,983 – Citations issued to drivers for operating handheld telephones or electronic devices behind the wheel of commercial motor vehicles.
  • 11,342 – Total number of drivers cited for not having valid operator’s licenses for the vehicles they were driving.

Vehicle violations included the following in 2016:

  • 149,394 – The number of vehicles that were found to be in violation of inspection/repair guidelines and that lacked proper maintenance to parts and accessories.
  • 141,715 – The number of vehicles that were being operated without periodic inspection.

These statistics make it clear that there are many trucks and truck drivers on America’s roadways at any given time that are in violation of many of the FMCSA’s requirements and guidelines.

At Matt Hardin Law, we look for all violations that occurred before or during truck accidents to help our clients maximize their chances of receiving full compensation for their medical bills and lost wages. With more than three decades of experience assisting injured victims, we know what it takes to build strong claims, and we know the ins-and-outs of the trucking industry both nationally and in Tennessee.

Protect Yourself by Avoiding Truck No-Zones

Most trucks are well-maintained and most truck drivers follow traffic laws and industry regulations. But you can’t always count on the truck driving near you to be fully compliant or the driver to be fully focused on safety. That’s why defensive driving is the best way to reduce your risk of being involved in a crash when you drive near big trucks.

Drivers are at their most vulnerable when they drive in trucks’ blind spots, and they have four significant blind spots called No-Zones. Unlike passenger cars, trucks, and SUVs, big truck blind spots are huge, and even mirrors and head checks can’t help them spot vehicles in their No-Zones.

The four No-Zones include:

  • Two-car lengths in front of the truck’s cabin.

Not only do truck drivers sit high up off the roadway, but they also have large engine bays blocking their views of the area of the road directly in front of where they’re sitting. That means they may be unable to see any vehicles or obstacles that are in a 20-foot space in front of their bumpers.

  • One-lane width next to the driver’s side door.

The height of truck cabins and the positioning of their mirrors also makes it difficult for drivers to see vehicles directly underneath their seats. If you’re driving in the lane adjacent to a big truck’s driver’s side, either speed up until you’re well ahead of the cabin or slow down until you can see the driver in his rear-view mirror.

  • Three-car lengths behind the truck’s trailer.

Traditional center-mounted rear-view mirrors are useless for big trucks that are hauling trailers, and their side mirrors provide limited visibility for vehicles traveling behind them as well. A huge 30-foot area directly behind a big truck’s trailer is considered a No-Zone, and you should avoid that area at all costs when driving near a tractor-trailer.

  • Two-lane width under and behind the passenger’s side door.

The biggest and widest No-Zone for truck drivers is the wedge-shaped two-lane blind spot under and behind their passenger’s side doors. Passenger vehicle drivers often underestimate the size of this blind spot because they may be able to see the truck’s mirrors, but unless you can see the driver in his or her mirror, he can’t see you.

In addition to avoiding No-Zones, it’s also important to remember that big trucks have much longer stopping distances that cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs. Never change lanes in front of a big truck and slow down, and be especially careful when turning at the same time as big trucks, as you may end up in their path as they swing their trailers back into the right lane.

Accidents Happen, and Experienced Legal Representation Makes the Difference

Knowing the common causes and factors involved in truck accidents can help you reduce your risks, but it can’t eliminate them. Even the safest and most attentive drivers are still at risk of being involved in crashes with tractor-trailers, and they may suffer serious and debilitating injuries.

Our Nashville truck accident lawyers are dedicated to helping injured truck accident victims get the results they need to move forward with their lives. If you or someone you love was hurt in a truck accident, don’t hesitate to reach out to our experienced legal team. We’re available to take your call 24/7. Just dial (615) 200-1111 or complete a free online consultation form.