Pennsylvania classifies a heavy truck as any truck that weighs more than 10,000 pounds. At a maximum, the state allows trucks to weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. When a heavy truck like a tractor-trailer impacts with a passenger vehicle, that passenger vehicle can be crushed as easily as you can crush an aluminum can. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, when fully loaded and traveling at 65 mph, it takes nearly 50 percent longer for a tractor-trailer to stop than when it’s traveling at 55 mph. When that truck impacts with a passenger car that weighs 38 tons less than the truck, there’s a strong likelihood of catastrophic injuries or fatalities.
Every year, there are about 100,000 large truck and bus crashes in the United States. As per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s most recent numbers, 3,986 people died in those types of accidents in 2016. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), that number was 27 percent higher than it was in 2009.
The number of large truck accidents in Philadelphia County continues to rise at an alarming rate. In 2013, there were 339 of them. That number increased to 407 in 2014, with 429 in 2015 and 461 in 2016.
Types of Heavy Truck Crashes
Large truck crashes involve varying weather and traffic conditions at any time of the day. Here are some of the types of crashes that heavy trucks are commonly involved in:
- Rear-end collisions due to long stopping distances, especially in rain, snow, ice or fog.
- Jackknifing when great forces force the tractor and trailer into each other due to hard braking or loss of traction.
- Rollovers due to cargo shifts and the tractor-trailer’s high center of gravity.
- Sideswiping another vehicle that’s in one of the large blind spots that a tractor-trailer has.
- Head-on collisions when the truck driver becomes drowsy or falls asleep at the wheel.
- Underride crashes when a car slides under the truck’s trailer after an impact. Most underride crashes are fatal.
Common Causes of Heavy Truck Crashes in Philadelphia County
Operating a tractor-trailer or other large truck in a safe manner requires quality training and practical experience. As per the IIHS, out of those who perished after being involved in heavy truck crashes, 66 percent were drivers and occupants of passenger vehicles, and only 17 percent were truck drivers or truck occupants. Motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians comprised another 16 percent. Here are some of the common causes of Philadelphia County heavy truck crashes:
- Prescription or illegal drug use by drivers that slows down reaction time.
- Insufficient maintenance of tires and brakes.
- Speeding or traveling too fast for traffic or weather conditions.
- Truck drivers not being familiar with roadways.
- Distracted driving by using a smartphone, texting or programming an infotainment center while driving.
- Fatigued or drowsy driving.
Preservation of Evidence
Insurance companies know that there is considerable financial exposure when a large truck accident results in severe injuries or death. You’ll want to preserve the evidence in the crash as soon as possible, but the only chance that you have of doing that is to obtain an experienced and effective Philadelphia Trucking Accident Lawyer right away. Critical evidence like worn tires and brakes, driver logs, camera footage, computer data and the electronic control module (black box) must be secured and preserved before they disappear. Even the recollections of eyewitnesses must be memorialized before they begin to fade.
Identifying the Parties
Our objective is to maximize any proceeds that you might derive from a large truck accident settlement or lawsuit. Identification of the parties who might be liable for an accident is another reason for speaking with us right away. Those parties might be the truck driver, the driver’s employer, the entity that loaded the truck, a maintenance or repair facility or even a government entity that’s responsible for maintaining a road.
Contact a Truck Accident Attorney
We’re respected, experienced and effective truck accident lawyers. We’ve successfully represented victims of heavy truck and tractor-trailer accidents in the past, and we have obtained substantial compensation for those victims. Remember that evidence can disappear, and the recollections of witnesses can get hazy. Those are just some of the reasons for you to contact us right away after becoming the victim of a heavy truck or tractor trailer crash in Philadelphia County or anywhere else in Pennsylvania. Consultations with our Philadelphia large truck accident lawyers are free and confidential. We’ll listen to you carefully and answer your questions. After that, we’ll advise you of your legal options.
The other side is going to have its team of investigators out to the accident scene before the mess is even cleaned up. Contact us right away after being injured in any heavy truck accident. You’re going to need our team on your side of the case.