Rear-end accidents where an 18-wheeler rear-ends a car usually cause extensive damage to the car and often result in serious injuries to the car’s driver and passengers.
Because of the truck’s large size and the fact they’re usually traveling at a high rate of speed on interstates when they come into contact with the car in front of them and are unable to stop in time, a deadly chain reaction can result. We’ve all seen those news reports of a multi-car pileup on a stretch of road that occurred when a semi-truck was not able to stop in time and plowed into the cars in front of it causing a chain reaction that could involve 20 or 30 other vehicles or even more.
When you add other factors like inclement weather, tired truckers, and an overloaded truck, the likelihood of a serious injury increases even more.
THE CHALLENGES TRUCKERS FACE
Truck drivers are often pressured to get to their destinations quickly; the more miles a trucker covers, the more the trucking company will make because more loads will be delivered ahead of schedule. Because truckers are often pressured to meet aggressive schedules requiring them to drive through the night and in bad weather, they may not be as alert behind the wheel as they should be. Tired truckers may also turn to drugs to keep themselves awake so they can work longer hours and drive more miles. These are just a few of the contributing factors to rear-end truck accidents.
In addition to driving while exhausted and being stuck in a small cabin for several hours at a time, truckers face the challenges that come with maneuvering a vehicle of that size. The heavyweight of a semi-truck makes it much more difficult to maneuver and stop than a passenger vehicle, and trucks have very long blind spots making it more difficult to know what other vehicles are close. Trying to locate vehicles and other objects in his blind spot may take the truck driver’s eyes off the road and can lead to dangerous situations in which the truck has to swerve to avoid hitting something or has to stop suddenly because he was looking away from the road ahead.
Carrying a lot of cargo makes the truck even heavier, and it becomes even more difficult to control. Truck drivers must also contend with hazardous materials, which, when involved in a rear-end accident, will result in much greater damage and loss of life. The truck’s large size and heavy cargo make braking a challenge every time the truck has to stop abruptly, and when high rates of speed and difficult road conditions like inclement weather or construction zones are added into the mix, the danger level rises even more.
The mission of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries. By working with state, federal, and local enforcement agencies, and safety interest groups, the FMSCA:
- Enforces safety regulations
- Targets high-risk situations
- Improves safety information systems and technologies
- Strengthens commercial trucking equipment
- Determines operating standards for trucking companies and drivers
- Increases safety awareness for companies, drivers, and others
While decisions regarding trucking companies' regulations and the schedules of truck drivers need to be made only by experts in the field, politics sometimes enter the equation. In addition, the safety of our country’s roadways may be affected by driver shortages, distracted driving, roadway construction, impaired driving, new trucking regulations, and unenforced trucking regulations.
Electronic logging devices for all truckers and trucking companies are now a legal obligation. Our hope is that the enforcement of this requirement will reduce the number of trucking accident-related fatalities and serious injuries.