For many reasons, an 18 wheeler truck is more dangerous on the road than a car, light truck, or SUV. Some of these reasons include greater weight, greater difficulty in making quick adjustments due to the size and structure of the vehicle, large blind spots, and longer braking times.
It’s important not to underestimate the impact the size of the vehicle has on both crash risk and the severity of a crash. So, just how much does an 18 wheeler weigh?
Empty, a semi-truck may weigh between 25,000 and 35,000 pounds. For comparison, a Nissan Versa weighs about 2,600 pounds. A Chevy Tahoe weighs about 5,600 pounds. In other words, an empty 18 wheeler weighs about 10 times as much as a small passenger car, and about five times as much as a large SUV.
But, of course, trucks don’t generally travel empty. A fully loaded 18 wheeler can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. The impact of tens of thousands of pounds of metal colliding with a 3,000-pound family vehicle can be catastrophic.
Both commercial truckers and the smaller vehicles they share the road with have a role in avoiding 18 wheeler collisions.
To ensure maximum safety on the road, the driver of an 18 wheeler must take a number of precautions, including:
- Ensuring that the 18 wheeler is properly maintained, to avoid issues like tire blowouts and braking failures
- Take care to load the truck properly, so that shifting cargo and unbalanced loads don’t interfere with control of the vehicle or cause the truck to tip
- Observing hours-in-service requirements and only getting on the road when properly rested
- Being honest in health certifications, since medical problems on the road can contribute to truck accidents
- Observe traffic safety laws and best practices, such as maintaining safe distance between vehicles and maintaining proper speed
- Avoid distractions and be conscious of blind spots
- Always use proper signals to let smaller vehicles know what to expect
Avoiding a Collision with an 18 Wheeler
Of course, not every trucker on the road observes every safety precaution. And, even a careful driver can be forced into a bad situation by someone else on the road, be impacted by road conditions such as low visibility, or simply make a mistake. Road safety requires everyone’s participation, and that’s especially true when large trucks are involved.
As a driver sharing the road with 18 wheelers, here’s what you can do to help avoid traffic accidents:
- Be aware of blind spots and avoid traveling in them–one good guide is to assume that if you can’t see the truck’s side mirrors, the driver can’t see you
- Understand that large trucks can’t stop (or even slow quickly) and take longer to change direction, so avoid cutting close in front of them or taking other action that will require them to adapt quickly on the road
- Always use your signals to let truckers know when you’re going to change lanes, and give plenty of notice
- Dim your brights if you’re traveling behind a truck at night–bright lights bouncing off the side mirrors can obscure the driver’s vision
- Be especially vigilant–while it’s always important to avoid distraction on the road, it’s especially crucial when you’re sharing space with a vehicle that can’t take quick evasive action
- When passing an 18 wheeler, give the truck a wide berth, and avoid traveling next to the truck for any longer than is necessary
Getting Help after an 18 Wheeler Accident
Unfortunately, 18 wheeler accidents happen. Often, those accidents result from negligence, whether on the part of the truck driver, the driver of the car involved in the collision, another driver on the road, the person who loaded the truck, the entity responsible for road maintenance or another party.
All of these variables, combined with the fact that truck drivers are often from out of state and the fact that there are federal regulations involved, can make an 18 wheeler accident case much more complicated than the typical car accident case.
If you’ve been injured in an accident with an 18 wheeler or other commercial truck, or you’ve lost a loved one to a large truck accident, it’s important that the attorney you consult has specific experience with truck accident cases. This experience will enable the attorney to manage the interplay between state and federal law, secure evidence, connect with the experts needed to establish liability, and identify possible responsible parties such as out-of-state employers.
At the George Salinas Injury Lawyers, we have the experience necessary to navigate complex 18 wheeler accident cases. Our entire practice is dedicated to helping people who have been injured secure fair compensation.
To learn more, you can schedule a free consultation right now. Just call 210-225-0909, fill out our contact form, or click in the lower right corner of this page to chat.
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