In 2016, truck accidents in Oklahoma injured or took the lives of 1957 people, according to the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety, Highway Safety Office. Of this number, 118 persons were killed in a crash involving a large truck, an 18 percent increase in fatalities from the previous year.
But why? Driver errors is the main cause behind why truck accidents happen, but we have physics to explain why these collisions are so deadly.
The overwhelming disadvantage of passenger vehicles
A tractor-trailer loaded down to capacity can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, giving a big rig of this nature a 20 times or more weight advantage over a passenger vehicle that typically weighs 4000 pounds or less. The sheer weight difference when added to the force of a crash simply leaves a small passenger vehicle with little ability to withstand the impact and protect the driver and other occupants. This is confirmed by data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) that reveals in a staggering 97 percent of fatal large truck accidents, the deaths occurring are occupants of passenger vehicles and not the truck.
Poor truck driver visibility
Truck drivers occupy an elevated position in truck cabs, making it more challenging to notice passenger cars and obstacles on the road than it is for drivers of passenger vehicles. Drivers of tractor trailers have several blind spots to contend with which are large enough to conceal an entire passenger vehicle. In addition, when poor weather conditions compound the already limited visibility of the truck driver, the chances for severe truck accidents increase.
Longer braking time is needed for 18-wheelers
Big rigs simply do not stop as quickly as smaller passenger cars due to the large difference in size and weight. In fact, in many cases in order to bring a large tractor-trailer to a stop at the same location as a passenger vehicle, the truck driver must apply the brakes 20 to 40 percent earlier than the driver of the car. As a result, when a truck crashes occur, oftentimes the truck is traveling at a high rate of speed than the smaller vehicle. The combined weight and speed difference often equates to catastrophic results for the occupants of the passenger vehicle.
Rollovers and jackknifing
Rollover and jackknifing accidents are two of the most severe types of truck crashes. A large truck, which inherently has a high center of gravity, can easily rollover if the truck driver makes a sudden maneuver to one side or the other. A jackknifing accident can occur if the truck driver attempts to steer the load of the truck (which is in the back) in an awkward direction. The result: the trailer of the truck travels in a different direction than the front of the truck – a dangerous scenario.
Our Oklahoma City truck accident lawyers at Cunningham & Mears have more than five decades of experience fighting on behalf of injured clients and their families. If you have suffered an injury due to the negligence of a truck driver or trucking company, we are here to fight for the financial recovery you deserve. To set up a free case evaluation with one of our trusted Oklahoma attorneys, please call us today at 405.212.9234 or send us a message through our contact form.