The Excessive Dangers Posed by Tractor-Trailer Accidents

Date: June 16, 2014

The recent New Jersey tractor-trailer collision involving comedian Tracy Morgan has brought to the forefront the potential devastation associated with these types of accidents. In the June 7th accident, a Wal-Mart tractor-trailer driver failed to see the traffic ahead of him until it was too late.  He changed lanes abruptly, attempting to avoid a collision, but struck the comedian’s limo bus, causing it to lose control and rollover. This led to a multiple vehicle pileup that included an SUV, two cars and a second tractor-trailer. James McNair, a writer for Morgan, was killed in the crash. It has been suggested that the driver had fallen asleep at the wheel, and he has been charged with death by auto and assault by auto. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the collision to uncover possible safety issues related to commercial trucking.

Factors that Contribute to the Seriousness of a Tractor-Trailer Accident

Big rigs are difficult to maneuver, making it more challenging for the driver to avoid the dangers when faced with unexpected road hazards. Additionally, tractor-trailers take more time to stop. When traveling at 60 miles per hour, the average semi requires about 350 feet to come to a full stop. This greatly increases rear-end collisions, similar to the New Jersey pile up. These factors demonstrate the need for skilled, competent and fully aware drivers for maximum safety.  A lapse, carelessness or an inexperienced driver can easily lead to a deadly collision.  Tractor-trailers typically weigh between 12,100 pounds and 80,000 pounds, while an average midsize vehicle weighs about 3,500 pounds and compact cars weigh in at around 3,000 pounds. Clearly, in a passenger car versus tractor-trailer crash, the car and passengers are extremely vulnerable to devastating damage and injury. The fatality rate increases by 50 percent when a big rig is involved in a road collision.

Dangerous Cargo

Tractor-trailers are often loaded with hazardous cargo, such as chemicals, flammable substances, and explosives. A collision with these rigs represents a substantially dangerous situation. Even seemingly innocuous cargo may present a hazard to other motorists. An overloaded tractor-trailer may be unbalanced, causing it to tip over at excessive speeds. Additionally, when a semi truck’s freight is not secured properly, falling debris can cause a great deal of damage on the roadway and to other vehicles.

Because of the serious and devastating nature of tractor-trailer accidents, the injuries sustained in these types of accident are typically quite severe and often lead to death. Trucking companies are fully aware of the potential hazards and carry large amounts of insurance for this very reason. The experienced tractor-trailer accident lawyers at DLP are adept at dealing with these companies to obtain just settlements for our clients. Call the lawyers at Dougherty Leventhal and Price, at one of our four locations, or visit us on the web to set up a free consultation. 

Paul Oven
Paul started as a Law Clerk with Dougherty Leventhal & Price, L.L.P. while attending the University of Scranton in 1990. After completing law school in 1995, he started as an Associate in the Scranton/Moosic office immediately and became a Partner in 2000.