Overturned tractor trailerA large commercial vehicle on the road is treated by most like the school bully:  it is viewed with dread, encountered reluctantly, and when an encounter is inevitable, many people prefer just to hold their breath, avoid eye contact, and sigh in relief when it’s over (even if the encounter in question consisted of nothing more than a brushing of shoulders).  These responses are basically irrational, as the bigger person/vehicle also has places to go and presumably isn’t thinking about harming you.  Still, even if you’ve done nothing to provoke trouble, you worry:  for while a confrontation is probably unlikely, you know that you would get the worst of it if anything went awry.

In the case of a commercial truck, the chances are that you have less to fear than you would from a school bully as an awkward 12-year-old:  “About 75 percent of commercial truck accidents are caused by drivers of other smaller passenger vehicles, rather than the truck driver.”  Nevertheless, you have good reason to be hyper-avoidant, as about 90% of accidents involving semi-trucks are fatal.  In all likelihood, nothing will happen, but that isn’t a chance you want to take.

The truth, fortunately for the little guy, is that 3 of the 4 most deadly accident types listed are attributable to driver error on the part of the smaller vehicle’s operator.  With a little insight to the nature of the risks involved in combination with good driving habits, a large number of the the deaths that take place every year are entirely preventable in the years to come.

1. Large Truck Strikes Passenger Car (547, 31% of pedestrian fatalities)

This accident type, clearly and unfortunately, is not one of those that can be avoided with good sense alone.  Commercial truckers’ collisions caused 547 deaths in 2008, accounting for 31% of the passenger car fatalities in such scenarios.  The accidents in this category could be T-bones, sideswipes, or any collision type that does not include head-on or rear-end.   It is the possibility of an accident under this heading that justifies general nervousness in the presence of a commercial truck.

2. Passenger Car Strikes Large Truck

Three hundred and seventy-four people die each year because the driver of a passenger car made violent contact with larger vehicle in a commercial truck accident.  These amounted to 21% of large truck accident fatalities.  Thus, the driver of a passenger vehicle should pay especial attention—not just to traffic laws in general, but to inclement weather/road conditions that would make a collision more likely (skidding/sliding hazards like gravel or ice).

3. Head-on Collisions/Passenger Car Lane Drifting

If ever there was a case to shun drowsy driving, it is found in these numbers:  351 lives were lost in 2008 when passenger car drivers swerved out of their lane and hit an oncoming commercial truck.  When you drive on insufficient sleep, lane drifting is an easy mistake to make when you don’t monitor yourself constantly.  If you are incapable of constant self-supervision, you’re probably better off not risking your life.

4. Passenger Car  Rear-Ends Commercial Truck

These types of accidents are responsible for 18%—or 311—of large truck accident fatalities.  Even in conditions of limited visibility or extreme exhaustion, these accidents should be easily preventable by anyone keeping their eyes on the road.  Hence, distractions like cell phones should be eschewed at all costs.

Thanks to I-15 traffic, Utah sees its share of commercial truck accidents.  In fact, there were 22 fatalities from such accidents in Utah in 2011.  The aftermath of these accidents can be as devastating for everyone involved as the accident, itself, whether they are injured or the survivors of a wrongful death.

If you are a member of the Salt Lake City area whose life has been disrupted by a fatal accident or serious injury, and your resources have fallen short of your requirements, there is help:  For a reasonable contingency fee, personal injury attorneys like Christensen & Hymas can negotiate with insurance providers and drivers at fault for accidents to make sure the victims of commercial truck accidents can obtain the resources to heal in a timely and thorough manner.  For a free initial consultation, call their office at (801), 506-0800.

Image courtesy of Bjorn Bulthuis

Ken Christensen
Partner, Founder at Christensen & Hymas
Ken Christensen is the founding partner of Christensen & Hymas. He is an avid cyclist, loves baseball, and enjoys spending time with his family in the outdoors.

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