The Most Common 18-Wheeler And Semi-Truck Accidents

Published on 09/30/2022 by Monica Burneikis

18-wheeler and semi-truck accidents are some of the most dangerous accidents that occur. This is due to the immense size and weight of the trucks combined with the fact that most of these accidents take place on highways where vehicles travel at higher speeds.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), eighty-eight percent (88%) of truck-related crashes are due to the error of the truck driver. If you or someone you love are a victim of an 18-wheeler or semi-truck accident, we recommend consulting with a personal injury lawyer to ensure your case is handled efficiently and that you or other victims are compensated adequately for medical expenses, lost wages and benefits, and other damages.

5 Most Common 18-Wheeler And Semi-Truck Accidents

Factors affecting semi-truck crashes are most commonly linked to:

  • Braking complications or failures
  • Prescription drug use
  • Traffic flow issues due to congestion,
  • Traveling too fast for conditions
  • Unfamiliarity with roadway
  • Roadway problems
  • Stop requirement (traffic control device, crosswalk)
  • Over-the-counter drug use
  • Inadequate surveillance
  • Fatigue

Here are five of the most common types of 18-wheeler and semi-truck accidents:

Jack-knife 18-wheeler and semi-truck accidents

Just as a jack-knife (pocket knife) folds in on itself, the act of braking or turning suddenly causes a semi-truck to jack-knife. During the accident, the truck's cab (where the driver sits) goes in one direction while the trailer goes in another. This causes the hinge between the trailer to fold in half so that the cab winds up sitting at the same angle as the trailer. 

Once a truck jack-knifes, there is very little a truck driver can do to regain control. Jack-knife accidents account for about 1 in 10 (10%) of all trucking accidents. These types of accidents commonly result in serious injury or fatality to surrounding motorists who cannot get out of the truck's path or may be forced to swerve off the road or into oncoming traffic in an instinctual reaction to avoid hitting the truck.

Truck rollovers

Semi-trucks are prone to rollover accidents due to their boxy size, high center of gravity, and heavy loads. The average loaded semi-truck and trailer is more than 40-times heavier than standard passenger vehicles. If a semi rolls over on a car or SUV, passengers of these vehicles are more likely to sustain severe or fatal injuries.

Blind spots

There is a common saying: "Left side, passing side; right side, suicide.” While bleak, there is much truth to this saying and the public is wise to take heed. While semi-trucks are equipped with special mirrors, the sheer size of the truck creates significant blind spots. For example, truck drivers have a much harder time seeing things on the right-hand side of their truck than they do seeing vehicles on their left-hand side.

If the driver of an automobile traveling behind or to the side of a truck is not able to see the truck’s driver in their rear-view mirror, odds are they cannot see you. If a car passes on the right side or makes a lane change while in a trucker’s blind spot, the passenger vehicle runs the chance of being struck or run off the road. About thirty percent (30%) of all 18-wheeler accidents occur when a passenger car, truck, or SUV is in the truck’s blind spot.

Rear-end collisions

If you spend any time commuting here in the Bay Area, you may notice most semi-truck drivers leave a large space between them and the car in front of them. This is because the significant weight of the truck requires much longer stop/start distances - as much as 20% to 40% more time than the average car/truck. 

If you cut in front of a truck driver and eat up that space and then have to brake suddenly, you risk being rear-ended. However, if a truck driver is tired, distracted, or under the influence, they are more likely to follow too close to the car in front of them, putting that driver and passenger at risk.

Tire blowouts

A tire blowout is a high-risk situation because it happens suddenly and makes it difficult to control the truck as it makes its way erratically to the side of the road or freeway. In the case of a truck, tire blowouts are usually the result of a driver or trucking company’s failure to inspect and maintain the tires adequately. 

Unfortunately, innocent motorists can be injured or killed when a blowout causes a trucker to lose control. Shredded parts of the tire can fly across the road or into surrounding traffic, forcing other drivers to swerve suddenly.

Other Potential Semi-Truck Accidents

Some of the other most common types of semi-truck accidents involve:

  • T-Boning. T-bone accidents are the name for incidents where one car runs into another at a 90-degree or perpendicular angle. These are most common when one driver runs a red light into cross traffic. When this happens in a busy intersection, the results can be catastrophic - including multi-car collisions. If it is a semi-truck that T-bones a passenger vehicle, the results are often fatal.
  • Underride accidents. Because 18-wheelers are so much taller than other vehicles, they are required to have rear guards on the backside rear bumper. That way, if the truck is rear-ended, the smaller car hits the rear guard and does not get trapped underneath the truck. However, if the semi lacks a legal rear-guard or the rear-guard is in poor repair, cars can become trapped and even dragged along under the truck.
  • Wide-turn collisions. The sheer length of a semi-truck means it has to tackle turns differently. For example, truckers need to make dramatically wide turns and may turn left a bit before making a right-handed turn (or vice versa) in order to gain extra space. Unfortunately, misunderstanding drivers may interpret that initial move as the turn direction, leading to a collision.

Have You Been Involved In An Accident Caused By An 18-Wheeler?

If you have recently been involved in an accident caused by a semi-truck, or you are experiencing the long-term effects of a past accident with a truck, contact Burneikis Law. We ask all the right questions and listen closely to your answers in order to determine whether or not you are in need of professional representation. We have the experience that is needed to help you navigate through the web of the insurance claims process and our legal system. With a proven track record for success both in and out of the courtroom, we will be your trusted advocate every step of the way.

Monica Burneikis - Oakland Personal Injury Attorney
Monica Burneikis has been an accident and personal injury lawyer for over 15 years. She knows what it takes to fight with insurance companies in order to obtain maximum compensation for injury victims and their families.
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