Trucking accidents are one of the most severe and dangerous types of auto accidents a person can be involved in. These accidents can easily leave the victims with major injuries, physical pain, and emotional trauma; in some cases they may even be fatal. That is why it is important to understand the factors that contribute to the severity of a trucking accident.
THE SIZE AND TYPE OF VEHICLES
It is commonly understood in the auto industry that even with safety features and careful drivers, when an accident does occur, you can’t fight physics. This means that larger, more massive vehicles, such as an 18-wheeler or commercial truck, will naturally fare better than much smaller vehicles like a compact car. However, what some people overlook is that the size and style of their passenger vehicles can still make a big difference.
Pickup trucks for instance typically fare better than small cars both because of their larger size and also because the hood is up higher. Along the same lines fullsize cars typically fare better in a comparable accident than midsize and small cars. One possible exception to the size rule is certain types of SUVs, which, despite their larger size, might be more prone to rolling over and severely injuring the occupants. However, in recent years automakers have made great strides toward reducing this danger, and it may be more of a concern for people with older model SUVs.
THE SPEED AT IMPACT
The speed at which the impact occurs is another case of not being able to fight physics. If the big rig truck slams into you at high speeds it’s going to exert a great deal more force than if the accident occurred at slow speeds. If your own vehicle is traveling at high speed as well this could make you more likely to spin out of control and crash into someone or something else.
High speeds are also a contributing factor for the accident to occur in the first place. It is much easier to stop in time to prevent an accident at slower speeds, and similarly it is also easier to take evasive action. High speeds may also make it more difficult to stop in bad weather or dangerous road conditions.
THE CARGO BEING CARRIED
In some tragic cases the cargo that the 18-wheeler is carrying may ultimately end up being what does the most harm in an accident. Heavy pipes and large equipment that are being hauled on a flatbed truck for instance may break loose as the result of an accident and crush the other car. Chemicals such as flammable liquids and gases, or other hazmat and toxic substances can also easily make a bad situation much worse. In some cases these dangerous substances could even prevent emergency responders from successfully rescuing victims.
THE PRESENCE OF SAFETY DEVICES
There is a reason why seatbelt laws have been gaining ground and why airbags now come standard in most cars. These safety devices go a very long way toward minimizing the harm and injury that happens during an accident. Many cars are also specially engineered to crumple in strategic places while remaining firm in other places, thereby distributing the force of the accident and minimizing injury to the driver and passengers.
THE LOCAL ENVIRONMENT
Getting hit by a big rig truck is bad enough, but if the impact pushes your car down a steep embankment, or over a bridge or overpass, that will obviously result in an even higher likelihood of serious injury or even death. Dangerous weather conditions, or simply bad traffic, may also delay ambulances and rescue workers. Along the same lines if your accident happens very far from a hospital or trauma center capable of treating your wounds your chances of surviving with minimal long-term damage will likely be much bleaker than if you were mere minutes away from a top facility when the accident happened.
Human factors can also go a long way toward minimizing, or exacerbating, an accident. For example, if the trucker is able to begin applying brakes prior to collision then this will at least result in the accident happening at a slightly slower speed. The driver of the struck vehicle may also in some cases be able to avoid hitting another car or object by steering away from it or applying the brakes. Calling 911 immediately or evacuating from a burning vehicle may also be imperative to prevent more serious injury.
Remaining vigilant while on the road and knowing what steps you can take to minimize your injury in an accident are essential. However, sometimes despite best efforts serious injuries and accidents do occur. When this happens it is important to protect your legal rights and seek the compensation you deserve for your injuries, pain, and suffering.