National Truck Accident Statistics tell us that in 2008, 4,229 innocent people died in the U.S. as a result of a truck accident. 3,139 were occupants of other vehicles and 413 were simply pedestrians or cyclists. In Pennsylvania there were 2,030 fatal traffic accidents, of which 195 were fatal truck accidents.
There are many types of Pennsylvania truck accidents, some of which include:
- Truck Rollover – A driver loses control of the truck and it slides sideways; something then causes the truck to tip over (curb, guardrail, object on the road, etc). The statistics of fatalities caused by truck rollovers are very high because of a truck’s massive weight and the accidents caused by such an impact on the highway are severe.
- Rear-End Big Rig Crashes – These truck accidents usually take place when a truck driver is traveling above the speed limit or takes his or her eyes of the road. The sudden slowing of traffic ahead poses many risks when a truck driver is not able to apply the brakes within the right amount of time.
- Tractor Trailer Under-Ride – This is the most devastating type of truck accident and the cause of the most fatalities. This happens when a passenger vehicle crashes into a truck, and due to the extreme difference in height, the car goes under the truck. What happens next is that the top of the car is sheared off and sometimes the passengers can become decapitated or suffer extreme head trauma.
- Head-On Truck Collisions – When a large truck strikes the front end of another vehicle, especially a small passenger car, severe damage, injury and even death often occur. Head-on trucking accidents can be some of the most violent due to the vehicles involved approaching each other and colliding in a location where vehicle occupants are the most vulnerable.
Many of the above are caused by either one or a combination of the following causes:
- Air Brake Malfunction – This happens when a driver applies too much pressure to the brakes when driving downhill.
- Brake Failure/Malfunction – This is rare as trucks have two separate braking systems, but it does occasionally occur because of improper maintenance, installation or overuse of the brakes. In addition, if the truck is not properly loaded, additional pressure is put on the braking system.
- Overloaded Trucks – If a truck is overloaded with cargo or debris, this can cause a danger for other vehicles on the road as the items could fall off the truck or be too heavy for the truck’s brakes to handle.
- Unbalanced Loads – A tractor trailer that is improperly loaded may become dangerously unbalanced if there is too much weight on one side, compared with the other.
- Tire Problems – Defective tires (bumps, bulges, cuts, and unrepaired leaks), regrooved tires, recapped or retreaded tires are all unsafe on trucks.
- Inadequate Reflective Tape – Many truck accidents occur at night as a result of inadequate or insufficient reflective tape, which does not allow the truck to be easily seen by other vehicles.
- Poor Road Conditions – Truck accidents can also be caused by defective roadways and highways, potholes, dangerous road conditions, insufficient lighting, road construction, lack of shoulder or median, bad weather, guardrails, and other dangerous road design defects.
- Truck Driver Error – Fatigue, use of drugs or alcohol, sudden illness or injury.
To find out more information on truck accident rules and regulations in the state of Pennsylvania, please browse our tractor trailer accident resource center on PA Law Blogs, a valuable legal resource managed by reputable Philadelphia truck accident lawyers.