Tractor-trailer truck accidents are among the most common truck accidents in the United States. According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Office of Crash Avoidance Research, there were 1.6 million truck tractors and 3.6 million trailers in use in the motor carrier industry in 1998.
Also, in 2001, there were 7.9 million heavy trucks registered in the United States - 4 percent of all registered vehicles, according to the NHTSA.
Heavy trucks are considered those with a weight greater than 10,000 pounds. Heavy trucks are involveved in an array of traffic accidents, with this number ever increasing. They are also involved in rollovers accidents as well. Although rollover accidents are not as frequent, they can result in more damage to the vehicle and more injury to the driver.
Improving Tractor Trailer Truck Technology
Tractor-trailer trucks are involved in approximate average of 200,000 crashes annually, however, that number is quickly increasing, according to the NHTSA. In 2002 there were 435,000 large trucks involved in traffic accidents, of these accidents, nearly 4,542 involved a fatality.
Attempts are being made to improve the technology used within the tractor-trailer truck industry and with the development of commercial vehicles. Due to unavoidable constraints among current combination-unit truck trailer electrical powering and communications systems, there is becoming an increase in mechanical failures causing truck crashes.
The NHTSA has developed the Truck Multiplexing (TruckMux) project to better equip truck drivers with communications and technology between the tractor and the trailer, because truck accidents can frequently occur due to a loss of control between the two units. Other items that are also being worked on to better improve tractor-trailer trucks and thus decrease the number of accidents associated, include:
* advanced lighting multiplex modules
* trailer air brake reservoir low pressure
* brake status
* air suspension pressure and height
* tandem axle load
* rear object detection
* side object detection
* trailer door open
These are just a few of the technological issues that can cause a tractor-trailer truck accident, however, there are a plethora of reasons that a tractor-trailer truck accident can occur. For example, a study from the Large Truck Crash Causation Study from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, NHTSA and U.S Department of Transportation (DOT) discovered that there are two different categories of truck accidents: driver conditions and environmental/outside conditions. Some driver conditions include:
* traveling too fast for conditions
* driver fatigue
* aggressive driving behavior
* alcohol, drug or prescription drug use
* interior distraction
* following too closely
* misjudgment of gap distance
Some of the environmental conditions include the following:
* roadway or weather related factors
* stop required to crash
* traffic flow interruption
* sightline obstructed
* other traffic/vehicle factors
* vehicle brake deficiency
* cargo shift or securement
* tire deficiency
* jackknife event
* brake, transmission or tire failure
* other vehicle defects
Tractor Trailer Accidents
The NHTSA has also developed a 10-year study to better determine the trends of heavy truck accidents. According to the study, the increase of truck accidents is occurring, and while many more individuals involved in accidents are wearing seatbelts/restraints, the fatalities associated with heavy truck accident/tractor trailer truck accidents is increasing. The study, conducted from 1994 to 2002, determined that:
* The lowest number of fatal accidents for this time period was 523 in 2002.
* On average, 18 percent of all heavy truck accidents and fatal injuries were a result of a single vehicle rollover accident.
* There was an annual 6 percent of heavy truck accidents involving fatalities and incapacitating injuries associated with restrained drivers.
* On average, 35 percent of heavy truck drivers were wearing restraint during this time period.
Avoiding Harm After a Tractor Trailer Truck Accident
If involved in a tractor-trailer truck accident, it is imperative that, whether injuries are visible or not, an individual seek medical attention immediately. As some injuries may be internal, it is important to ensure all potential conditions are thoroughly reviewed by a physician. Additionally, it may be necessary for an individual to consult with a tractor-trailer truck accident attorney on the specifics of developing a truck accident lawsuit.
Often, medical bills as well as additional costs of missing work, school, etc., are associated with being involved in a tractor-trailer truck accident, which is why it may be necessary to develop truck accident litigation and pursue compensation for the injury incurred.