It is a widely-known fact that trucks can be dangerous vehicles, and a recent series of accidents on I-81 in the western part of Virginia (VA) has illustrated this fact in a very grim way:
The first accident involved a tractor trailer full of watermelons that ran off the road and overturned in the median. As you can imagine, it made a big mess in the highway and traffic was detoured onto US Highway 11, causing a back up that stretched for several miles.
About three hours later the worst of the series of crashes happened when a tractor trailer did not slow down in time for the detouring traffic and struck a car. The impact forced the automobile underneath a tractor trailer in front of it and caused a chain reaction of several trucks hitting each other.
One of the tractor trailer’s fuel tanks ruptured and caused a fire that spread rapidly and destroyed the passenger vehicle. The occupants of the car died at the scene.
Horrible accidents like these occur all-too frequently, and serve as reminders for the dangers of trucking accidents. The American Association for Justice (AAJ) has determined that over 28,000 trucking companies are operating with safety violations, some of which are intentionally ignored by the company to cut costs. Such violations may include hiring drivers with shady backgrounds, not keeping the trucks running safely, or overloading the trucks. This means many unqualified truck drivers whether on Virginia’s interstate highways or others are driving damaged trucks, some of which are loaded with more goods than they can safely carry.
Since trucks are larger and heavier than most passenger cars, they are inherently more dangerous than passenger cars. They take longer to slow down in an emergency stop; they can impact vehicles with a lethal force from a much slower speed; and the truck drivers often feel protected from danger.
As a car driver, you need to be very cautious around 18 wheelers and semi-trucks. True, there are many well-trained truck drivers, and many trucking companies are honest and safety-conscious. But you usually can’t tell the difference between a relatively safe truck and a relatively unsafe truck until it’s too late, so it’s always better to err on the side of caution. Obviously, it’s a good idea to always be a safe driver, but since most of injuries and deaths in trucking accidents are the people in the other vehicle, your safety is more at stake than ever when you are driving near a tractor trailer or semi.
About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm (VA-NC law offices ) edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono service to consumers. We also host a YouTube injury law video library with more than 50 videos covering many FAQs on personal injury subjects. Lawyers with Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton are licensed in VA, NC, SC, WV, DC and KY. They handle car, truck, railroad, medical negligence cases and more.