Why Big Rigs Cause More Accidents – and Who Is to Blame

Why Big Rigs Cause More Accidents – and Who Is to BlameBig rigs are dangerous. They account for more than their share of accidents on the roads in South Carolina, which we have discussed before. These are giant tractor trailers (sometimes called 18-wheelers or semis, which is short for semi-trailers) that are used to transport goods from one place in the state to another, or even to another part of the country. In the media, big rig drivers are often subject to the lion’s share of the blame in most accidents. However, media coverage rarely tells the whole truth.

A quick primer

Big rigs are dangerous primarily because of their size. These trucks can weigh up to 80,000lbs and be over 65 feet long. The average passenger sedan doesn’t stand a chance in an accident. These massive vehicles take longer to accelerate, brake, and maneuver; add in massive blind spots, and you get a vehicle that requires a high degree of skill and attention to operate.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tells us that “Large trucks have higher fatal crash rates per mile traveled than passenger vehicles, although a higher percentage of large truck travel occurs on interstates, the safest roads. Most deaths in large truck crashes are passenger vehicle occupants rather than occupants of large trucks. The main problem is the vulnerability of people traveling in smaller vehicles. Trucks often weigh 20-30 times as much as passenger cars.” Consider these statistics:

  • 3,413 people died in large truck crashes in 2010. Fourteen percent of these deaths were truck occupants, 72 percent were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles, and 13 percent were pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).
  • The annual death toll from truck-related crashes is the equivalent of 36 major airline crashes every year, one crash every week resulting in 95 deaths.
  • Large trucks are involved in 9 percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths despite the fact that large trucks make up only 4 percent of all registered vehicles. (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
  • The fatality rate for big combination truck (tractor-trailer) crashes in 2010 was 1.58 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (MVMT).

Unfortunately, truck drivers are the ones left to deal with blame instead of the true offenders. StopUnSafeTrucks.org is a group of advocates whose mission is to make our nation’s roadways safer by enforcing safe trucking practices. Their motto, “Blame the System, Not the Drivers” perfectly captures the root of the problem.

From their website:

“Truck drivers are an essential part of the American way of life, delivering our food and other goods from coast to coast. Most of these drivers are careful and courteous to other vehicles on the road. Too frequently, though, they are forced to meet unrealistic deadlines to get to their destinations as quickly as possible. Some truck drivers also have reported that the conditions of their trucks are below standards, but they have to keep moving. Job security, insurance benefits, and the right to disagree with their supervisor vary from state to state. In some states, if a truck driver complains about their working conditions, they can be dismissed.”

When your loved one has been injured or killed in a truck accident in South Carolina, it can be difficult at first to see how a driver’s employment circumstances contributed to the accident. After all, the driver was the one operating the vehicle, the driver was the one that made the decision, and the driver may even have been the one that caused the accident. However, the circumstances of the accident are important. If a trucking company uses bad business practices, their employees are placed in a position that endangers others on the road. Younger, newer drivers will be trained in this unsafe manner, which could contribute to more accidents because they simply do not know any better. When that happens, the company must be held accountable.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a commercial truck accident, the experienced and compassionate South Carolina truck accident attorneys at McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips, LLC, can help get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us or call 888-302- 7546 today for a free consultation at one of our offices throughout the state.