No one wants to tangle with a big rig on the highway. The massive size of a large truck or 18-wheeler alone can contribute to catastrophic injury and death. The size differential between a 40-ton fully loaded commercial motor vehicle (CMV) and an average weight of 4,000 for a passenger car is huge. When the truck is also hauling hazardous material, an accident can result in severe secondary injuries from a fire or the release of toxic chemicals.
North Carolina is one of 10 states that had the highest average of fatal large truck crashes in recent years, representing 51% of all fatal crashes involving a large truck or bus. And although large trucks make up only 4% of the vehicle on the road, they are involved in 10% of all highway deaths.
Fayetteville residents who have experienced trauma or have lost a loved one from a truck accident must get information on the necessary steps to receive compensation for medical costs and reconstructive surgery, rehabilitation, lost wages and pain and suffering that will help them with the healing process.
The causes of fires after a collision
In 2018, collisions were the main cause of vehicle fire fatalities, with an estimated 212,500 vehicle fires that year. In the four years prior to 2018, 79% of truck fire fatalities were the result of a collision. Experts agree that speed is a factor, as most fires start during or after a high-speed collision.
In a passenger car, fires most often begin in the fuel tank or fuel line where there is flammable or combustible liquid or gas, and mechanical failures are often the cause. Where a fire begins with a truck, however, is usually when a tire catches fire due to a wheel bearing or brake malfunction, or because of an underinflated tire.
Primary causes of fatal truck crashes
Truck accidents are mainly the result of driver error, which can be in the form of:
- Distracted or drowsy driving
- Chemical or alcohol-impaired driving
- Failure to yield right of way
When truck companies put their drivers on tight schedules while sending them across the country, it results in stress and a tendency for the driver to ignore strict federal hours of service regulations that limit the amount of time they can be on the road before taking a rest break or sleeping. Many drivers are chronically sleep-deprived and rely on stimulants or other drugs to keep going.
Trucks are also higher off the ground, and accidents can occur when the driver simply does not see the smaller vehicle when changing lanes or making a turn. When speed is a factor, the risks are not only severe collisions but also loss of control of the truck, as a large truck takes much longer to brake. Sudden braking can result in jackknifing in which the trucker loses complete control of the vehicle.
Finally, there may be third-party liability in a truck accident, especially if the trucking company has not performed regular maintenance on the truck, if the cargo loaders created uneven weight distribution on the load, or if equipment manufacturers installed faulty brakes or wheel bearings in the vehicle.