The terms “tractor trailer,” “18 wheeler,” “semi-trailer,” and “semi-truck” all refer to the same thing: a large vehicle consisting of a tractor, or towing engine, attached to a large compartment that carries freight, or semi-trailer. And while tractor trailers are one of the most common ways that American companies transport goods, their design makes them inherently unwieldy and potentially dangerous.
When they’re loaded with cargo, semi-trucks can reach 80,000 pounds. Even unloaded, empty semi-trailers average 30,000 pounds. This extreme weight is a key factor in many catastrophic truck accidents. The force of an 18 wheeler is enormous when compared to a standard passenger vehicle, which weighs in around 4,000 pounds.
Common Causes Of Tractor Trailer Accidents
18 wheeler accidents can occur for any number of reasons:
- On highways, tractor trailers often travel at high speeds. All it takes is a semi truck driver’s negligence for this to become an extremely dangerous situation.
- Semi-truck accidents can cause serious injuries at low speeds, too. A tractor trailer’s design forces it to make wide turns which can become risky if its driver fails to adequately check their surroundings. This is also known as “trailer swing.”
- When properly maintained, semi-trailer’s shouldn’t pose any risk of mechanical failure. But too often, 18 wheelers are driving with worn-down brakes and treadless tires. These conditions can easily lead to serious accidents.
- We’ve all seen scraps of rubber littering highways as we drive by. These are the result of “blow outs,” when worn-out tires eventually explode. Blow outs can cause an immediate loss of control, resulting in a truck’s dangerously fish-tailing. They can even make the truck flip; roll overs like this frequently cause multi-car pileups.
- Even perfectly cared-for, a tractor trailer’s brakes have a difficult time stopping the truck quickly. This fact leads to a higher incidence of rear ending accidents for semi trucks than for any other vehicle type. Because 18 wheeler’s are so much heavier than most of the cars they hit, these accidents can be disastrous.
- A semi truck jack-knifes when it comes to a sudden stop and the cargo in its trailer quickly changes location. This shift in weight whips the trailer around and sideways.
- Illegal stimulant use is rampant among truck drivers, because their jobs require long hours at the wheel. When the effects of these drugs wear off, truck drivers are left tired, increasing the chances of negligent conduct.
- Cargo on the back of an open trailer semi-truck may be improperly secured to the trailer. If it falls off, the surrounding vehicles are instantly placed in harm’s way.
Contact An Experienced Tractor Trailer Accident Attorney
It’s possible that if you were involved in a semi truck accident, you don’t see your situation described above. Don’t worry; Philly Truck Accident Lawyers are still your best option for exploring the legal options available to victims of a tractor trailer driver, owner, or manufacturer’s negligence. Call 215.405.0072 or fill out our online contact form today and begin reviewing your choices!