Does the Weight of a Vehicle Play a Role in Motor Vehicle Accidents?

There are several reasons why the size and weight of a vehicle affect the outcome of auto accidents.

Typically, the larger a vehicle is, the slower its stopping ability tends to be. This means that they may come into a collision with more speed and power behind them, which can result in them creating a more devastating impact on another vehicle.

Heavier motor vehicles are better able to withstand the punishment of an auto collision, too. Not only might the larger vehicle take less damage in the initial collision, but larger vehicles like semis tend to push smaller vehicles a great distance, which may lead to additional dangers.

Accidents between civilian cars and commercial tractor-trailers can result in absolute devastation, especially for the smaller car.

What is the Weight and Power of Different Types of Large Trucks?

The commercial big rig’s size and weight depend greatly on whether they’re attached to a trailer, the load they’re hauling, and other important factors. The truck (also known as the cab) can weigh anywhere from 17,000 to 22,000 pounds alone. The average weight of a trailer for hauling is about 10,000 pounds – and that’s to say nothing for the cargo. Put together, a tractor-trailer can weigh around 30,000 pounds before ever loading a single piece of cargo.

Federal and state rules and regulations determine how much a tractor-trailer is allowed to carry on any given trip. Still, the maximum allowed is incredible to ponder. Truck, trailer, cargo, and all, the law allows semi-trucks to weigh up to 80,000 pounds – that’s 40 tons. This maximum weight is called its laden weight.

For context, compact cars weigh around 4,500 pounds, most minivans weigh less than 6,500 pounds, and a full-size SUV can weigh up to 12,000 pounds.

When you consider the weight difference between civilian vehicles and a fully loaded semi, you can better understand why truck accidents can cause such crushing damage to smaller cars.

How Common Are Fatal Semi-Truck Accidents?

Recent statistics gathered by the National Safety Council (NSC) show that the frequency of semi truck accidents is on the rise in America. For the purposes of these statistics, ‘large trucks’ are defined as any medium or heavy truck (other than buses and RVs) with a weight of more than 10,000 pounds.

In 2021, large trucks accounted for 5% of all registered vehicles in the U.S. but were responsible for 9% of the nation’s fatal traffic accidents. 5,788 people perished in accidents with large trucks in 2021. 83% of the fatalities were either the occupants of other vehicles or pedestrians and bicyclists, with only 17% of the fatalities being the truck drivers and their passengers. This discrepancy goes a long way to show just how dangerous the weight and power of a semi-truck can be. (In the same year, more than 100,000 large trucks were involved in crashes that reported minor or severe injuries.)

What Are Common Causes of Trucking Accidents?

Common causes of large truck accidents include the following:

  • Blind spots.
  • Braking problems.
  • Dangerous road or weather conditions.
  • Driver fatigue.
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI).
  • Equipment failure.
  • Failure to stop.
  • Human error.
  • Improperly loaded cargo.
  • Inadequate surveillance.
  • Maintenance issues.
  • Negligent or reckless driving.
  • Other drivers.
  • Overloaded trailer.
  • Poor driver training.
  • Road debris.
  • Speeding.
  • Unfamiliarity with a roadway.
  • Use of medications.
  • And the truck company puts its priorities over the safety of those on the road.

What Are the Rules and Regulations that Truck Drivers Must Follow?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires all commercial trucking companies to register with the administration and abide by its strict rules and regulations. These regulations include the qualifications of the truck driver, the maintenance that a truck must undergo, and the hours of operation for all truck driver personnel. These laws apply to any driver or trucking company involved in interstate commerce.

A truck driver must have ten consecutive hours off-duty before they begin a shift for the company. After their shift begins, they are only permitted to have 14 consecutive hours of on-duty performance. During those 14 hours, they are limited to 11 hours of driving time. For every eight consecutive hours behind the wheel driving the truck, the driver must take a 30-minute break.

State laws have set restrictions on the size of trucks. In Louisiana, a single axle has a maximum weight of 20,000 pounds, and a tandem axle has a maximum weight of 34,000 pounds. These restrictions are in addition to any size and weight restrictions laid out by the FMCSA.

Contact Our Law Firm for a Free Case Review Today

If you were in a truck accident and suffered losses, you may be entitled to seek financial compensation. If successful in proving your truck accident claim, a settlement could help compensate you for damages like lost wages, lost future income earning capacity, property damage, medical bills, physical therapy expenses, wrongful death, emotional distress, loss of quality of life, and pain and suffering.

Babcock Injury Lawyers have years of experience serving the interests of accident victims in Louisiana. As your personal injury attorneys, we would handle the insurance companies and the truck company lawyers, granting you more time to recover from your ordeal.

To schedule a free consultation, please contact our Baton Rouge-based law offices at (225) 258-2881.