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Think You Know Everything About Truck Accidents? Some Surprising Statistics

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Springfield, ILAlthough you may realize that truck accidents can be deadly events, you may not realize the statistics surrounding semi-trailer accidents. Even people who have driven for a long time might be surprised to know that there are many different laws governing how tractor trailers are operated across the various states.

For example, in some states, semi-trailers must be driven at a slower speed than cars and passenger vehicles are driven at. The reason for the slower speed is physics—it takes a big truck a lot longer to stop than it takes smaller vehicles, especially when traveling at faster speeds. According to an article in the Daily Journal, it can take a semi-trailer almost 400 feet to stop when it is traveling at 60 miles per hour. Imagine if a large truck traveling that fast had to stop suddenly. It would be virtually impossible to do so.

Speeding TruckSpeeds for semi-trailers vary depending on the state they are in. Forty-two states have uniform speed limits on their rural interstates, meaning that the semi-trailers drive at the same speed as other vehicles. Meanwhile, some states have the limit set at 70 miles per hour, while others have the speed limit set at 64 miles per hour.

In Illinois, tractor trailers must be driven at 55 miles per hour. A number of proposals have been forwarded to allow big trucks to travel at a faster speed, however these have all been either defeated or vetoed. Critics of the proposed legislation note that it is much more difficult for trucks to stop quickly at high speeds and therefore unsafe for trucks to travel at the same speed as passenger vehicles.

So, how deadly are large truck accidents? According to the Truck Safety Coalition, 5,212 people died in the US in accidents involving large truck accidents in 2005 and a further 114,000 were injured. Furthermore, approximately, one in eight traffic crash fatalities are the result of a large truck accident and, in two-vehicle crashes involving a small passenger vehicle and a large truck, "98 percent of the resulting deaths are the occupants of the small passenger vehicles." Approximately 22 percent of all passenger vehicle occupant deaths are related to large truck accidents.

The Coalition notes that, based on deaths per 100,000 population, the most deadly trucking states in the US are Wyoming (6.9), Arkansas (4.17) and Oklahoma (3.41). In 2005, 22 states had death crash rates higher than the national average of 1.76. Additionally, according to the Coalition, the annual death rate from truck-related crashes is equal to 52 major airplane crashes every year. Finally, even though trucks with a GVWR of more than 10,000 pounds make up only three percent of registered motor vehicles, they are involved in approximately 13 percent of all traffic fatalities.

Even though large trucks are regulated in the US, they are still often operated with safety defects. The Coalition notes that "In both 2005 and 2006, more than one of every five trucks that were inspected was placed out of service for deficiencies that prevented it from continuing to operate."

Truck accidents can be devastating to the people involved in crashes. They can sustain lifelong injuries that require constant treatment, if they even survive the accident. An experienced lawyer can help to determine liability in the accident and help victims receive compensation for their injuries.


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