When most people read articles about North Carolina car accidents involving tractor-trailers, the news often ends in tragedy. All too often, the drivers of passenger vehicles that have the misfortune of being involved in an accident with a big rig end up either dead or seriously injured. For more information about why these accidents with tractor-trailers often prove deadly, keep reading.
The number of people killed every year in accidents with large commercial motor vehicles is truly alarming. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, between 3,000 and 4,000 people die in accidents involving large trucks every year, while more than 100,000 people are seriously injured. Why are these kinds of accidents so deadly? Factors like the size of trucks, their speed and weight and the exhaustion of some driver all play a role.
First things first, tractor-trailers are massive pieces of machinery. Typical big rigs can weigh 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. By way of comparison, an average passenger vehicle weighs between 3,000 and 4,000 pounds, meaning trucks are often 20+ times heavier. This huge difference in size means that the occupants in passenger vehicles are far more likely to be killed than occupants of the truck. A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that in deadly two-vehicle crashes involving a passenger vehicle and a large truck, 98 percent of the deaths were occupants of the passenger vehicles.
Another factor that increases the risk of serious harm in accidents involving tractor-trailers is the speed and weight of the trucks. Truckers are often under extreme pressure to make deliveries on time, something that can lead them to exceed safe speed limits. This decision can prove deadly given how long it takes a tractor-trailer to come to a complete stop. According to experts, a typical passenger car traveling 65 miles per hour would need a little over 300 feet to come to a full stop. On the other hand, fully loaded tractor-trailers require 525 feet, or nearly the length of two football fields, to come to a stop.
Finally, truck drivers are notoriously sleep deprived. Their grueling schedules and long hours can make it difficult for drivers to get the rest they need to operate their vehicles safely. Sleepy drivers make mistakes and have slower reaction times, issues that often harm others on the road. According to one study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 750 people are killed in accidents every year related to sleepy truck drivers.
Though no amount of money can ever fix the harm that was suffered, a North Carolina wrongful death lawsuit can be filed against the responsible party. This ensures that the surviving family members are taken care of after the loss of a loved one. It also works to hold negligent drivers accountable for their actions. If someone you know and love has been killed in a North Carolina auto accident, reach out to our experienced North Carolina car accident attorneys today for more information about your options.
Here's a YouTube video where one of our accident attorneys discusses some of the most common causes of truck accidents: