Drivers often encounter numerous varieties of large, commercial trucks as they go about their daily commutes. Even a short jaunt to the local grocery store can mean encountering trucks as heavy as 33,000 pounds without freight. While these exceptional feats of automotive technology may be amazing, they can also prove dangerous.
Drivers need to understand the risks that trucks pose on the road. Large vehicles carrying heavy loads or transporting hazardous materials have the potential to cause damage to both people and property. Below, we’ve outlined some basic facts about the trucks you likely see on the road every day.
Types of Trucks
1. Semi-Trailer Trucks
Semi-trailer trucks rely on strong towing engines to allow them to carry large, heavy semi-trailers. These articulated trucks may even tow more than one trailer at a time. People in different parts of the country may refer to them by different names—tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, and big rigs—but generally, these names all refer to semi-trailer trucks.
Semi-trailers are involved in a striking number of fatal collisions every year. Because they’re difficult to control and often loaded with heavy materials or merchandise, they can pose a considerable danger on the road. This is one reason why semi-trailer truck drivers must have a special driver’s license.
A large number of semi-trailer truck collisions and accidents are the result of the trucks’ two-part nature. Because the tractor and trailer are separate parts, it’s easy for them to jackknife and cause drivers to lose control.
2. Extra Duty Trucks
Extra duty trucks often hold very large equipment during transport. These trucks allow companies to transport huge freight across almost any distance—some extra duty trucks even carry houses from one place to another. As with semi-trailer truck drivers, extra duty truck drivers must have a special certification to legally operate their vehicles.
3. 18-Wheeler Trucks
18-wheeler trucks are just one of many varieties of semi-trailer trucks. Federal and state regulations dictate that these trucks may not exceed 80,000 pounds of total weight (including the weight of the vehicle itself). Consider that the average passenger car weighs about 3,500 pounds, and it’s easy to see how much damage an 18-wheeler truck can cause.
4. Tanker Trucks
Tanker trucks are motor vehicles specially designed to transport gases and liquids. Their name derives from the large tank that the truck carries. If a collision occurs, these trucks can prove especially dangerous. They tend to carry extremely hazardous materials like gasoline.
5. Heavy Trucks
Heavy trucks are the largest category of trucks permitted on United States roads. These vehicles weigh anywhere from 26,001 to 30,000 pounds without the addition of any freight. Some heavy-duty trucks are also available in smaller and lighter versions. Because of their enormous size, these vehicles have huge blind spots and present a serious risk on the road.
Some common types of heavy trucks include:
- Mobile cranes;
- Tractor units;
- Tank trucks;
- Refrigerator trucks; and
- Concrete transport trucks (also known as cement mixers).
6. Flatbed Trucks
Flatbed trucks are easily-recognizable on roadways due to their unique design. These trucks feature open beds (or trailers). This makes them the ideal solution for companies that need to load freight in an easy and timely manner.
Unfortunately, many companies are irresponsible when loading freight. Flatbed trucks are often full of unsafe and unsecured freight that poses an immense risk to other drivers on the road. The improper loading of goods presents a huge risk for all sorts of accidents and collisions.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration began imposing strict guidelines for how to secure cargo in 2002. Unfortunately, many companies still fail to take responsibility for loading freight securely.
7. Garbage Trucks
It’s no secret that garbage trucks are virtually unavoidable on the road. You’d be hard-pressed to venture out onto residential or interstate roads without seeing a handful of garbage trucks driving around. While these vehicles play a critical role in helping keep our communities and homes clean, they also present a danger on the road.
Because garbage trucks are so large, their drivers have to contend with massive blind spots and difficult maneuvers. If a garbage truck is in the active process of collecting or retrieving waste, the vehicle frequently comes to sudden stops. These factors render garbage trucks risky vehicles to encounter on the road.
8. Dump Trucks
Dump trucks, sometimes known as production trucks, are specially designed to carry loose materials. These materials tend to come from the construction industry and may include things like dirt, gravel, and sand. Some dump trucks are even utilized to help move trash to landfills.
These trucks offer drivers an extremely limited view of what’s occurring behind them, which makes backup accidents common. They also rely on massive hydraulic components to power the gears that lift their beds to dump goods, which means they tend to be exceptionally large and heavy.
9. Panel Truck
Panel trucks are one of the smallest kinds of commercial trucks on the road. They consist of fully-bounded bodies and don’t tend to pose as great a risk as vehicles like 18-wheeler trucks. Many companies rely on these trucks to help them deliver consumer goods or to haul the tools they need to perform certain services.
Trucking Accidents Can Prove Dangerous
Experiencing a motor vehicle accident involving a truck can be a frightening and dangerous experience. Over 4,000 people died as a result of large truck crashes in 2017, and the vast majority of them were occupants of other cars. If a large truck crash does not lead to fatalities, the injuries occupants of other vehicles sustain often prove devastating.
If you or a loved one has come to harm in a large truck crash, it’s important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. An experienced truck accident lawyer can partner with you to help you seek the compensation you deserve after a large truck accident.