An auto accident involving a semi-truck or similarly sized commercial vehicle presents a far greater risk of serious injury or death than a typical accident involving two passenger automobiles. According to data published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, large trucks were involved in nearly 10 percent of all the fatal crashes in Colorado that occurred in 2018. The NHTSA defines a “large truck” as a truck that weighs over 10,000 pounds without cargo, excluding buses and motor homes.
Colorado Truck Accident Statistics
The trucking industry is indispensable to the Colorado (and national) economy. It accounts for approximately one in every 10 jobs in the state and pays billions of dollars in wages to Colorado residents each year. And yet, we pay a heavy price for having such an active commercial trucking sector; tractor-trailers are involved in many of our most devasting motor vehicle accidents.
Over the course of the last decade the number of fatal crashes in Colorado involving large trucks has nearly doubled. This uptick largely mirrors a nationwide trend, again according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Puzzling experts is the fact that this steep rise in fatal crashes is occurring at a time when federal and state agencies have begun using a highly sophisticated system to monitor mechanical and safety violations perpetrated by trucking companies nationwide, with Colorado being one of the earliest participants.
One possible explanation for the increase in fatal accidents involving large trucks in Colorado is just the inherent difficulty of driving on our mountain roads. Truck drivers in Colorado must understand how to use specific slowing techniques when traveling downgrade or else risk overheating and ultimately losing the use of their brakes. Add in the snow and ice that are common at high altitudes and it quickly becomes apparently that operating a large truck in Colorado can be a dangerous activity even for experienced truck drivers, with devastating consequences.
Common Causes of Large Truck Accidents
There are many different causes of large truck accidents, but the following are arguably the most prevalent:
Longer Stopping Distances
A large truck weighing over five tons takes considerably longer to stop than a passenger vehicle. This reduces a truck driver’s ability to react to what is happening on the road ahead of them. Poor training, inexperience, and inattentiveness is often the cause of rear-end collisions when a truck is unable to stop.
Just like a motorist operating a car, a truck driver must be mindful of difficult road conditions and change their driving behavior accordingly. Again, poor training, inexperience, and inattentiveness are the usual culprits.
Traveling over the speed limit in a tractor-trailer is inherently dangerous. It increases the truck’s stopping distance even further and can potentially make a collision with another vehicle far more serious.
Despite stringent federal regulations that place limits on how many consecutive hours truck drivers can work, the fact remains that truck drivers work long hours and face many pressures to make their deliveries on time. Driving while fatigued is often responsible for causing large truck accidents. Sometimes truck drivers will push the boundaries by taking drugs to keep them awake, leading to poor judgment and devastating accidents.
A large truck that’s poorly maintained or not regularly inspected can suffer serious problems that directly cause an accident. Bald or unbalanced tires, worn out brake components, and malfunctioning brake lights are all good examples of easily addressed mechanical problems that pose a serious danger to other drivers.
Contact Whalen Injury Lawyers
The foregoing information is provided courtesy of Whalen Injury Lawyers – a Colorado personal injury law firm that has obtained large jury verdicts and out-of-court settlements on behalf of wrongfully injured individuals. We proudly represent those involved in not only truck accidents but also car and motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, and pedestrian accidents, as well as cases relating to slips and falls, dog bites, wrongful death, defective products, and more.