Head-On Truck Accidents: A Deadly Threat on Our Highways

Head-on truck accidents are some of the deadliest traffic collisions on our nation’s highways, but they are also surprisingly common. Two-vehicle head-on collisions account for nearly 60% of fatal truck crashes. And what is the most frightening is that, as a passenger vehicle driver, it doesn’t matter what speed you are going if a truck driver rams into you head-on.

The Grim Stats

In 2018, 31% of people killed by a large truck while traveling in a passenger car were hit head-on. And an additional 24% of those people were struck by a truck from the side. Just 23% of passenger vehicle occupants were killed in a collision with a large truck because their vehicle struck the truck’s rear end.

The deadliest trucks are the big-rig ones, as the chances of making it alive after being struck by one head-on are next to zero. Surprisingly, head-on truck accidents are more common than people think. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) own numbers, 57.5 percent of all deadly crashes involving a large truck were head-on collisions,

Every year, more than 2,000 people die, and over 40,000 suffer injuries in head-on truck collisions. Also, 96% of people killed in a head-on truck collision are passenger vehicle occupants.

Why Are Head-On Truck Accidents So Deadly?

Head-on collisions are so deadly for passenger vehicle occupants because of the size of the trucks. A large truck typically weighs more than 20 times than a passenger car. A large truck is also taller, so a passenger car can easily end up under the truck in a head-on collision.

What’s more, because of the heavy loads they are hauling, trucks have limited braking capability. A fully loaded large truck can end up to 40% farther than a passenger car when braking suddenly, and that number can jump even higher if the roadway is slippery or the brakes are malfunctioning.

There’s also the issue of truck driver fatigue. Even though truckers are not allowed to drive more than 11 hours in shifts of maximum of 14 hours within a 24-hour window under federal regulations, some truckers break the 11-hour rule. This behavior results in truck driver fatigue and a higher risk of collisions when they hit the road.

Head-on truck accidents are more deadly than head-on collisions between passenger vehicles because of the greater force of the impact when the two vehicles collide. What’s more, if one or both vehicles were speeding at the moment of the crash, the collision is all the more deadly. In a head-on truck collision, passenger car occupants are the most likely to suffer severely life-altering injuries or die.

What Causes Head-On Truck Accidents?

Head-on truck accidents are increasingly common because the reasons they happen are also common. Head-on collisions with trucks are usually caused by one or several of the following factors – in no particular order:

  • Speeding. Truckers may be tempted to speed to when they have an emergency delivery or are pressured enough by their employers to make it on time on an unrealistic schedule.
  • Fatigue. Truck drivers are allowed to drive up to 11 hours with a mandatory 30-minute break after 8 hours. Unfortunately, some truckers are so exhausted that they fall asleep while at the wheel, smashing cars from the opposite direction head-on.
  • Curves. Because of the sheer load of big-rig trucks, navigating a curve can result in a head-on collision, especially if the trucker is tired, distracted, or inexperienced.
  • Distractions. Distracted driving is a growing problem among truck drivers. It is one of the reasons many trucking companies have installed onboard cameras to keep tabs on drivers. If a trucker is texting, checking his or her e-mail, looking at funny cat pictures, or setting the GPS, it takes just a split second to veer out of their lane and cause a deadly crash.
  • Brake failure. This is a common problem because both trucking companies and truckers fail to routinely inspect their trucks’ brakes, while some carriers even willfully tamper with their fleet’s brakes to save on wear and tear.

To Wrap It Up

Head-on truck accidents are some of the deadliest traffic accidents there are, and passenger car occupants account for most fatalities in such crashes. There are several reasons head-on collisions with trucks keep happening on our nation’s roads, with the most common ones involving the truck driver.

Despite the slim odds of surviving a head-on truck accident, there’s still hope for the victims. An experienced truck accident attorney such as Paul E. Hammack or one of his dream team members can help truck accident survivors reach multi-million settlements or verdicts as fair compensation for their injuries and pain and suffering.

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