In 2006 alone, the FMCSA (the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) reported that large truck accidents caused 4 321 deaths and 77 000 personal injuries. That same year, 287,000 property damage claims were filed as a result of trucking accidents. Although many people believe that all vehicle accidents are the same, there are many important differences between car accidents and trucking accidents:
1) Severity. Trucking accidents are far more likely than car accidents to result in fatalities, serious property damage, and significant property damage. They are also more expensive and more complicated in legal terms, since more parties are involved. Trucking accidents are also more challenging to settle, often because many parties and insurance carriers are involved.
2) Fuel fires. Trucks are more likely than cars to catch fire, since trucks sometimes carry flammable materials. As well, trucks run on diesel fuel, which can ignite if this fuel comes into contact with battery spark. Trucking accidents resulting in fires often lead to serious burn injuries and fatalities.
3) Jackknifing. Jackknifing occurs when one vehicle hits another at an angle. Trucks may have their brakes de-powered or disabled, which increases the risk of jackknifing. As well, the consequences of jackknifing are far more severe in trucking accidents than in car accidents. In car accidents, jackknifing can result in serious injuries, but two cars are generally of similar size. When a truck jackknifes a car, however, it is very likely that the car will be crushed and all occupants killed.
4) Braking problems. Brake problems are a more frequent issue in trucking accidents than in car accidents. Trucks, unlike passenger vehicles, use air brakes, and these brakes have a heat limit. If truck brakes overheat – often because they are set incorrectly or because a truck is driven incorrectly – the brakes may fail.
5) Rollover accidents. Trucking accidents are far more likely than car accidents to result in rollover. This is because trucks have a higher center of gravity, making it easier for them to tip over and roll. As well, heavy loads and incorrect load distribution can make trucks vulnerable to rollover accidents.