Commercial trucks are vital to the American economy. In 2018 alone they carried a total of 11.49 billion tons of freight, accounting for 71.4% of all domestic tonnage. Without the commercial trucking industry, 7.8 million would be without jobs. That being said, when things go wrong with large trucks, they can go catastrophically wrong.
Fatal Truck Accidents in Louisiana
Louisiana has seen a stagnant rate of fatalities and injuries due to truck accidents. 2014, 2017, and 2018 all saw 97 large trucks and buses in fatal crashes, or around 14% of all fatal crashes in the state. The number of injuries due to truck and bus crashes has stayed within the range of 2,800 and 3,000 every year since 2014, around 6% of all crash-related injuries.
When a crash involving a commercial truck occurs, the injuries are often catastrophic. The vast disparity between the sheer weight of an 18-wheeler and a regular car is enough to crush most sedans. This is the reason for the statistic that nationwide, 72% of fatalities in truck accidents in 2017 were the occupants of other vehicles.
Of all nationwide fatal crashes involving large trucks in 2017, 2.2% occurred in Louisiana, a state that only accounts for 1.4% of the nation’s total population. This is a disproportionate number of fatalities for a relatively small state, and needs to be addressed.
Making it Local
Parker Layrisson Law Firm is located in Tangipahoa Parish, a parish home to roughly 127,000 people. In 2018, there were four fatal crashes involving large trucks, 68 crashes resulting in injuries due to large trucks, and 89 crashes resulting in property damage, also involving large trucks. These crashes had ripple effects around our community, impacting our friends, families, and neighborhoods.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 32% of all fatal crashes involving trucks were head on for both the truck and the other vehicle involved. 21% involved the other car rear-ending the truck, and a further 13% involved the truck colliding with the other car’s left side. All of these situations are incredibly dangerous for the drivers of the other cars, hence the high fatality rate.
For the 13% of accidents that involve the truck colliding with the other car’s left side, a common cause for this is the other car making a left-hand turn and either failing to provide enough space for the truck, or the truck failing to stop in time. This can be due to unsafe intersections and reckless driving by either driver. This could be reduced by ensuring all intersections have suitable visibility for drivers turning left. This is especially important in rural areas where intersections with country roads may not be marked and the presence of vegetation may reduce visibility. It is also important as 58% of all fatal crashes involving large trucks occur in rural areas, and 73% of all large truck collisions occur on non-interstate roads.
Who Is Responsible
Responsibility for large trucking collisions changes depending on the situation. Due to their commercial driver’s license and vehicles with the capability of causing catastrophic damage, truck drivers have a higher responsibility to avoid hazards. That being said, large trucks have limited maneuverability when it comes to stopping and turning. That means that if a car cuts a truck off, it might be impossible for even the most attentive truck driver to stop in time or avoid a collision. That being said, any hazardous situation can become exponentially more dangerous when an impaired or reckless truck driver is involved.
Large truck collisions are some of the worst crashes that can happen on the road. They can cause extreme amounts of damage and trauma, and are difficult to recover from, physically and emotionally. When a truck driver is at fault, the company they work for can be held liable for employing an unsuitable driver. Seeking a legal course of action is often the best decision a person can make when their life is turned upside down by a truck crash.