Big rig trucks are vital contributors to America’s economy. They transport goods from across the country every day, allowing citizens to purchase items that are both necessary and essential to their quality of life. These trucks use the same roadways as passenger vehicles, however, and the reality of congested highways and traffic jams can often lead to auto accidents between cars and trucks. Sadly, many of these accidents have tragic consequences. Just this month, three people were injured after their car collided with a fuel truck in Jacksonville, Florida. The accident involved at least five other vehicles, but luckily all injuries were minimal. Another woman was not so fortunate. Renita Marie Only, a 41-year-old Orlando woman, lost her life after her car collided with the back of a semi-truck early this month.
Are Trucking Accidents Common?
Nearly 4,000 motorists were killed and over 100,000 injured as a result of collisions with semi-trucks in 2012; furthermore, 333,000 large trucks were involved in traffic accidents that year. Fatality rates of those involved in trucking accidents have been on the rise in the last several years. In 2011, 3,781 people died in accidents with trucks, and that number rose four percent to 3,921 in 2012. Serious injuries have seen an even larger increase. 88,000 people were injured as a result of truck accidents in 2011, and by 2012, that number increased 18 percent to 104,000 injuries. Florida in particular has one of the highest rates of fatal auto accidents in the nation with 3,428 fatal crashes in 2012. Nearly six percent of those accidents involved large trucks, accounting for over five percent of the national total of fatal trucking accidents.
Despite making up a relatively small percentage of total vehicle accidents, trucking accidents are more likely to be fatal and involve more people. Indeed, 81 percent of fatal trucking accidents involve multiple vehicles, and most of those injured are passengers of the other vehicle. Seventy-three percent of fatalities in 2012 were occupants of the passenger vehicle, while only 18 percent of those injured or killed were passengers of the truck. Passenger vehicles are both smaller and lighter than trucks, and thus occupants are more vulnerable to damage from the heavier, larger semi-truck in the event of a crash.
Causes of Trucking Accidents
While every auto accident may involve several causes, some factors contribute significantly to the rate of trucking accidents. Driver fatigue and drowsy driving continue to be a serious concern for truckers. Although companies have instituted mileage limits and mandatory rest periods, many companies still offer pay incentives for mileage and time, leading some drivers to stay on the road well past the point of safety. Studies have shown, however, that while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a major contributor to auto accidents in general, drunk driving is not a major factor in trucking accidents. In 2012, only two percent of drivers involved in fatal trucking accidents had BAC levels above .08, compared to 23 percent of drivers in passenger vehicle accidents, 22 percent of light truck drivers, and 27 percent of motorcycle drivers. Other types of driver error contribute to accidents, including failure to adjust speed to winding roads or highway ramps, as well as distracted driving which affects many drivers on the road. In some cases, external factors like tire blowouts, load shifting, or poor road conditions contribute to accidents even without driver error. All of these factors ultimately cause trucks to exhibit sudden lane or direction changes or erratic driving patterns that may lead to collisions with other cars.
Have You Been Involved in an Auto Accident?
John Piccin settled a trucking death case last year for $2.7 million.
If you or a loved one has been in a car accident in Central Florida, let experienced lawyer, John Piccin at Piccin & Glynn help. John has handled hundreds of auto accident cases and will ensure that you get the support you need. John can answer all of your questions, negotiate with insurance companies, and even make home or hospital visits to help you through this difficult time. Call John at 352-558-8480 for a free consultation to discuss your case today.