18-wheelers are one type of semi-trailer truck. Semi-trailer trucks include a tractor unit which pulls the trailer. The trailers carry shipping cargo within states and across the country. Other terms for these 18-wheelers are big-rig, tractor-trailers and semis.
While many commercial truck trips are completed without incident, when a accident does occur truck accidents are often much more serious than car accidents. The bigger the truck, the more likely the occupant of a car that collides with the truck will be killed or suffer permanent injuries. 18-wheel trucks are among the biggest vehicles on the road. 18-wheelers, on average, are sixteen times the weight of a typical automobile. In light of the large size and high weights of these vehicles, drivers need a special license called a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) to drive in Arkansas and elsewhere.
Reasons Semi Truck Accidents Happen
There are many types of accidents that are unique or common to semi drivers as compared with drivers of standard automobiles. Experienced Arkansas lawyers know the various reasons 18-wheel truck accidents happen in Arkansas and other states include:
- Speeding — Many shipping companies push the limit on when drivers need to get the cargo to the warehouse. This rush causes many truck drivers to speed which, in turn, causes accidents.
- Driver Fatigue — Because many shipments are intended for places far from the point of origin, several days travel can be involved to deliver the goods. Drivers should take the time to sleep and ensure that they are adequately rested. While there are laws that regulate how many hours the drivers can drive without long-term rests, some drivers push the limit. As a result fatigued drivers are on the road much too often. Fatigue is often a primary cause of truck accidents.
- Driving While Intoxicated — Many drivers relieve the tedium of long-term driving by stopping and having a drink or fight the effects of fatigue with amphetamines or other illegal drugs. Just one or two drinks can impair judgment and slow reaction times. Drivers with a CDL can lose their license if their blood alcohol level is above a low minimum standard. Drivers who do drive while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs significantly increase the accident risk of all motorists.
- Trucks with Too Much Cargo — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the size of 18-wheelers and the amount of cargo, by weight, that they can carry. Excess weight can make it tougher to control these big-rigs. Improperly secured cargo can shift while the vehicle is in motion increasing the odds of a loss of vehicle control. Excess cargo can spill onto the road causing a hazard to many other drivers.
- Poorly Inspected Trailers — The FMCSA and Arkansas state laws require regular inspections of big-rigs for defects, wear-and-tear, and other safety violations. The regulations are meant to ensure the stability of the vehicle and to minimize the odds the truck will get into an accident. Shipping companies should regularly inspect their tractors, their trailers, the security of the cargo and all related vehicle parts to make sure they are safe. Failure to conduct these inspections is negligence.
- Untrained Drivers — Drivers who do not have a CDL should not be allowed to drive an 18-wheeler. Drivers with CDLs are required to pass yearly tests to show they are competent and have the physical ability to drive these large trucks.
The above are, unfortunately, only a few of the factors and circumstances that can make a commercial truck accident more likely. In many cases multiple factors work in tandem to make an accident inevitable.
Types of 18-Wheeler Truck Accidents
Just as there are unique reasons as to why large truck accidents occur, there are also defined types of truck collisions. While some accidents are unique because they are attributed to a certain location such as a construction zone, others are unique because of the way the vehicles come together. An experienced Arkansas attorney will review these types of accidents, sometimes with the help of a traffic reconstruction expert. Some accident types include:
- Jackknife Accidents — This type of accident relates to the hitch that joins the trailer to the cab or tractor. In a jackknife accident, the trailer can form a right angle with the tractor. This type of accident typically happens during a skid. The right angle position of the two units can cause the 18-wheeler to turn over and also cause havoc for all other vehicles nearby.
- Truck Rollovers — Because of the physics of trucks, their size and movement, large trucks are susceptible to rollovers. Rollovers often kill drivers or cause long-term catastrophic injuries.
- Underride Accidents — This is an accident between a car and a truck. In some accidents, the car does more than just strike the rear of the truck. The car actually is able to ride under part of the truck because the front of the car and even the windshield of the car are lower than the bottom of the truck. These accidents are especially deadly.
The above accounts for only several of the types of accidents one can experience when the collision involves a large commercial truck.
Rely on Arkansas Truck Accident Injury Lawyer Ken Kieklak After a Crash with a Commercial Truck
An Arkansas truck accident attorney will review these and many other issues when someone is injured due to a collision with an 18-wheeler or large truck. The Law Practice of Ken Kieklak is dedicated to fighting for personal injury victims by holding negligent commercial drivers and trucking companies financially accountable. To schedule a free and confidential injury consultation call (479) 316-0438 or contact us online.