Trucking companies and their drivers are essential to the United States economy. This fact has been made abundantly clear as the country has encountered numerous supply chain issues following the pandemic. As a result, Americans understand better than ever the part these companies and employees play in keeping products moving through the system.
The commercial importance of trucking must balance with public safety. It is imperative that truck drivers and trucking companies exercise the appropriate level of care so that automobiles remain safe while sharing the road with 18-wheelers. In this blog, we will discuss why wide truck turns can be so dangerous.
Trucking accidents continue to be a problem. According to driving-tests.org, approximately 130,000 people are injured every year in truck crashes. In 2019, large truck crashes were involved in 11 percent of deaths caused by motor vehicle crashes. Interestingly, statistics further show that 86 percent of nonfatal accidents and 83 percent of fatal accidents occur on weekdays.
While our first thought of a truck accident probably involves a truck traveling at high speeds on an interstate, many truck accidents happen on more minor roads in both rural and urban settings. Below we will examine some specific issues related to wide turns.
Making a wide turn can be a challenging maneuver for a truck driver, especially when there are other cars, motorcycles, or pedestrians around. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), large trucks have a turning radius of 55 feet and need lots of space. Semi-trucks also have multiple large blind spots. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) notes that the large size and weight of big trucks affects braking, maneuverability, turning, and other aspects of operating the vehicle.
Dangerous aspects of wide turns
One dangerous aspect of wide turns occurs when a driver does not accurately judge the amount of space they need. When tractor-trailer trucks turn, the trailer does not track directly behind the tractor. Many of us have observed some version of this issue while walking or driving through town. For example, you might have seen a driver cut a turn short, causing the trailer to run over the curb, and sometimes even strike a vehicle or a fixed object like a pole. Similarly, you might have seen traffic at a standstill because a truck cannot move further without colliding with a vehicle in another lane.
Unfortunately, on some occasions, the truck driver does not see that an automobile, pedestrian, or vehicle is in the path of the turning trailer. These trailers are heavy enough to crush smaller vehicles.
Another dangerous circumstance can arise when a driver’s cargo shifts. This can occur if the driver enters the turn too quickly or makes other mistakes in which momentum causes the trailer to flip over. Even if the rig doesn’t flip, the momentum can cause the driver to lose some amount of control.
Additionally, other negligent acts by the trucking company and other employees (besides the driver) can cause accidents. For example, improper loading of the trailer or improper maintenance of the brakes and other systems can also hamper the driver’s ability to control a turn properly. This, of course, can lead to a crash.
Right to recover damages
When a truck driver or trucking company causes an accident due to negligence, Oregon law entitles injured victims to the right to recover damages. This includes medical bills, hospital bills, ambulance costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering – just to name a few. Please contact us with specific information so that we may fully advise you on the types of damages you may be entitled to recover.
Call with questions
We understand that you will have a lot of questions in the event that you’ve been involved in a semi-truck wide-turn accident. There may be federal regulations, state laws, insurance coverage, and other complicated issues to consider and make sense of. Just give us a call, and we will answer your questions in a free consultation. The experienced truck accident lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield believe that to keep society safe for everyone, people must be held responsible for their negligence.