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What does the data say about accidents involving big rigs?

Across the country, thousands of accidents occur each year, and a certain number of those crashes take place here in West Virginia. Narrowing the numbers even more, a certain number of them involve 18-wheelers. In order to narrow the numbers further, you have to consider that only a certain number of crashes involving big rigs also results in fatalities.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute gather facts each year regarding fatalities on the country’s roadways, including those involving big rigs. It probably won’t surprise you that driving or riding in a passenger vehicle increases your vulnerability in an accident involving a truck. So understanding how these accidents happen could help you avoid becoming a statistic.

First, some facts

Did you know that out of every 10 fatal accidents that occur every year on the nation’s highways, one of them involves a truck? As for more particular facts, the newest statistics, which are for 2016, include the following:

  • 3,986 people died in truck accidents
  • 48 percent happened from 6 a.m. through 3 p.m.
  • 16 percent were on a Saturday or Sunday
  • 66 percent were in passenger or other vehicles
  • 16 percent were motorcyclists, bicyclists or pedestrians
  • 17 percent were in big rigs
  • 11 percent of all deaths were in truck accidents
  • 32 percent happened on highways or interstates
  • 60 percent happened on major roads — not interstates
  • 7 percent happened on minor roads

In 20 percent of the fatal truck accidents in 2016, the passenger vehicle struck the back of the truck. Around 31 percent of the crashes were head-on collisions. This data provides an insight into when, how and where accidents involving big rigs and passenger vehicles take place. Even with this information, you may still wonder why the crashes happened.

Second, some causes

Truck accidents happen for a variety of reasons. Those in which the truck driver bears the fault often result from fatigue. Truck drivers spend many hours on the road, which is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates how many hours a truck can be on the road before its driver must rest. Even when a driver remains within those hours, fatigue can still play a large role in a crash.

Another issue involves braking. Loaded 18-wheelers can weigh anywhere from 20 to 30 times more than your passenger vehicle. This means that it needs considerably more stopping distance. In fact, it needs around 20 to 40 percent more distance in order to come to a complete stop, and that’s under ideal conditions. If it happens to be raining, snowing or sleeting, the distance required to stop increases, which makes a truck all the more dangerous.

Third, some support

Losing a loved one is heartbreaking enough without it happening suddenly and violently in a truck accident. In addition to the loss of someone you love, you may also sustain financial losses from expenses you didn’t count on incurring, along with other damages. It may be worthwhile to determine whether you may pursue compensation for those losses, and perhaps, find some justice for your loved one.

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