As a motorist, you likely share the road with 18 wheelers and other large trucks every day. You may not give them much thought, other than noticing their large size, but these vehicles are often responsible for passenger deaths during crashes; the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety notes that in 2018, 67% of deaths that occurred during truck crashes were passengers in other vehicles.
Understanding why passenger deaths are more common than those driving a vehicle may help you stay safe while on the highway and other roads where you might encounter large trucks.
Commercial trucks usually weigh several tons more than passenger vehicles, and when they are fully loaded with goods, this can add even more to the gross weight. This makes driving big rigs and tractor-trailers challenging and when an accident occurs, the vehicle’s sheer size often causes blunt force trauma deaths to the passengers in a smaller car. This is usually common with rear-end accidents when a large, heavy truck strikes the back end of a car and there are people riding in the backseat.
Commercial trucks, such as tractor-trailers, require greater braking distance than smaller vehicles, especially when they are full of goods or materials. When a large truck is fully loaded, the braking distance required is almost 50% greater than that of your passenger vehicle. When truck drivers cannot brake in time to prevent an accident, the velocity and force of impact often cause fatalities to passengers in the smaller car.
Those who drive commercial vehicles sometimes travel further than permitted by federal law. Driver fatigue and a slower response time may contribute to passenger vehicle fatalities when accidents occur.