Truck accidents are more likely to result in serious bodily harm or death than other types of accidents because of the sheer weight of most trucks, especially tractor-trailers and trucks carrying cargo. Because trucks are heavy, they build momentum at high speeds, making it hard for them to stop quickly. When a truck driver encounters a sudden change in road conditions or just becomes distracted and fails to pay attention to the road, the consequences can be dire. Heavy vehicles require more time and distance to stop, so even if the driver sees an obstacle many yards ahead, there still may not be enough time to stop. A range of factors, including distracted and sleepy drivers and poor weather conditions, cause truck accidents.
Distracted, Sleeping Drivers a Likely Culprit in Many Truck Accidents
According to a 2011 report on crash statistics released by the Illinois Department of Transportation, there were 93 fatalities in tractor-trailer crashes that year, and 74 of those fatalities were in vehicles other than the tractor-trailer. Pickup trucks accounted for more than 42,000 crashes, single-unit trucks accounted for about 7,000 accidents and tractor or semi trucks accounted for more than 10,000 accidents. This figure includes 81 fatal crashes, representing 10 percent of all fatal motor vehicle crashes in Illinois for that year. Injury and property damage occurred in the remaining crashes.
Many more crashes in 2011 involving tractor-trailers occurred in urban environments than in rural environments. There were more than 2,000 crashes on state routes in urban areas involving tractor-trailers, as well as almost 3,000 urban area interstate truck crashes and more than 3,000 city crashes. During that same period, tractor-trailers were involved in about 600 rural state road crashes, about 900 rural interstate road crashes and about 450 rural local road crashes.
Several serious truck accidents have been in the news lately, including a fatal truck accident in November that took the life of an Illinois state trooper at a traffic stop. He was struck by a tractor-trailer, the driver of which is reported to have lost consciousness before the accident. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said the driver has medical conditions that should have barred him from trucking.
Illinois Victims of Truck Crashes May Be Entitled to Compensation
Those who have been injured in accidents involving trucks in Illinois should be aware of their legal rights, especially with regard to compensation for medical expenses and lost work time. A Chicago truck accident attorney can be a helpful resource during the often stressful time after an accident.