A head-on collision with a truck almost always results in catastrophic injuries or death, even at relatively slow speeds. This is not because of the combined speed of the two vehicles—that is a myth—but because the truck is much bigger and heavier than even a large pickup truck. If a truck hit you head on and you suffered injuries or lost a loved one, contact a truck accident attorney as soon as possible. You have limited time to file an insurance claim or a court case if the insurance company does not agree to a fair settlement.
When you have an understanding of the difference between the weights of the different vehicles, you better understand why injuries from head-on truck collisions are so catastrophic. Everyone knows that a truck weighs much more than a passenger vehicle or light truck, but many do not realize how much heavier a truck actually is. This lack of knowledge is evident when you see people merging very closely in front of a truck on the highway.
Because of a truck’s weight, the truck takes much longer to stop, even if conditions are perfect. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a loaded tractor-trailer takes up to 40 percent more distance to stop than a passenger car does. If the roads are wet or icy, or if the truck’s brakes are not in great condition, a loaded tractor-trailer takes even longer to stop.
The average weight of all vehicles, according to Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation, are as follows:
- The average passenger car weighs 1.5 tons (3,000 pounds). A smaller car weighs less and a full-size car weighs more.
- The average single-cab pickup truck weighs 3 tons (6,000 pounds).
- An ambulance, which may not seem much larger than a pickup truck, weighs in at a hefty 5 tons or 10,000 pounds. An ambulance can, therefore, do serious damage to a passenger car or pickup truck.
- Delivery trucks weigh an average of 6 tons or 12,000 pounds.
- A loaded school bus weighs about 17 tons or 34,000 pounds.
- A loaded charter bus averages about 20 tons or 40,000 pounds.
- Depending on the size of a fire truck, it might weigh between 19 and 30 tons or between 38,000 and 60,000 pounds.
- A loaded garbage truck weighs an average of 25 tons or 50,000 pounds.
- A loaded snow plow truck weighs an average of 28 tons or 56,000 pounds.
- A loaded cement truck doesn’t weigh as much as a tractor-trailer truck. The average weight of a cement truck is 33 tons.
- A loaded dump truck weighs up to 36 tons.
- A tractor-trailer truck with a standard load—a load that is not an oversize or overweight load—weighs an average of 40 tons or 80,000 pounds.
When an 80,000-pound tractor-trailer truck collides head-on with something that weighs 36 tons, both drivers will face injuries. When passenger vehicle drivers find themselves face to face with that 80,000-pound truck, those in the lighter vehicle will experience catastrophic injuries or even death.
Head-On Accident Causes
You may find yourself going head-to-head with a tractor-trailer for several reasons, including:
- Driver fatigue. Most truck drivers must follow federal regulations that dictate how long at a stretch they are allowed to drive or do related work. However, some may fail to follow the hours of service regulations. And federal regulations do not apply to some drivers, including local drivers who go home every night. If a truck driver is tired, they may swerve out of their lane right into your path.
- Parts failure. Truck drivers are supposed to inspect their trucks before every trip. If a driver doesn’t inspect their truck and fails to notice a worn part, that part could break and cause the truck to veer into your lane, resulting in a head-on collision.
- Deferred maintenance. Because of the thousands of miles drivers put on their trucks over short periods of time, trucking companies and truck owners/operators are supposed to perform maintenance frequently. If the company and/or driver does not complete this maintenance, the truck can break down. Depending on the part that breaks, a break-down can cause the truck to veer into your lane and cause a head-on collision.
- Weather. Weather conditions also play a role in accidents, including head-on crashes. A wet or icy road can cause a driver to lose control, even at posted speed limits. Truck drivers, just like everyone else on the road, should slow down to a speed that is safe for conditions. The faster you drive on wet roads, the higher your chance of hydroplaning right into the path of another vehicle or off the road.
Injuries You Might Suffer in a Head-On Wreck
If a truck does hit you head-on, the seriousness of your injuries is largely dependent on the speed the truck is going when it hits you. Faster speeds mean more force transferred into your vehicle and your person. The more force with which a truck hits you, the more likely you are to experience serious injuries, such as traumatic brain injury or even wrongful death.
Trucking Accident Compensation
If you are in a truck accident, let your insurance company know, but only give the representative your name, policy number, and location of the crash. Tell the representative that your attorney will contact them shortly. Because insurance companies are more worried about their bottom line than ensuring you have enough to cover your medical costs, you should wait for an attorney to begin negotiations. Additionally, if the insurance company knows an attorney is involved, they understand that the chances of going to trial are high if the company doesn’t come up with a fair and reasonable settlement.
A truck accident lawyer can evaluate your case if you or a loved one were injured in a head-on collision.