When people in New Mexico go out on the highway, they see trucks alongside them and may not think twice about it. Most of the time there is no reason for concern, as commercial drivers receive professional training that should prepare them to operate these massive and cumbersome vehicles in all kinds of traffic situations.
But the sheer size differential between a fully loaded semi and a passenger car, in addition to the high speeds of highway traffic, can contribute to catastrophic injury and death in a collision. Large trucks make up only 4% of all vehicles on the road, but they are involved in 10% of all highway deaths.
In 2017, accidents involving large trucks were responsible for close to 5,000 deaths, and most of these were large tractor-trailers. More than two thirds of those killed were the occupants of cars or other vehicles. Trucks are not only larger than most other vehicles on the road, but they also often haul combustible materials such as petroleum or other hazmat, making severe secondary injuries likely in a collision.
Nearly two thirds of all car fire fatalities between 2013 and 2017 occurred in collisions and related events, and 79% of deaths from truck fires were due to collisions. Large truck fires also caused $281 million in property damage. The fact that most of these fire events happened on highways suggests a connection between fire ignitions and high-speed impact.
Many fires in passenger cars start near the fuel tank, or in the fuel line that contains a flammable liquid or gas, often caused by mechanical failure or malfunction. Truck fires, on the other hand, usually begin with the ignition of a tire, which may be due to a brake or wheel bearing failure. The greater weight and much larger fuel tank of a truck also make post-crash fires more likely for large trucks, which are responsible in 14% of all post-crash fires.
When deadly accidents involving a truck happen in Albuquerque, the potential liability from claims is so high that federal laws require that truck operators and companies purchase significant liability coverages that vary depending on the commodities that they haul. Getting insurance to pay, however, can be challenging and complex.
The most common causes of fatal truck accidents involve:
Driver fatigue can cause driver error, and drug use and stimulants also contribute to truck accidents. Violations to federal regulations regarding the number of hours on the road per day or weekly, as well as the number of rest breaks, can provide evidence of negligence on the part of the driver.
If you or a loved one has suffered serious trauma from the negligent actions of a truck driver, it is essential to discover your options for obtaining compensation in order to begin the long road to recovery.