As in nearly every state, semi-truck accidents are on the rise. When fully loaded, an 18-wheeler tractor-trailer can weight upwards of 80,000 pounds. Unevenly distributed weight inside the vehicle can become unstable, causing it to slide, jack-knife or roll over. Added to the mix, standard passenger vehicles only weigh around 4,000 pounds. In an accident with an 80,000-pound big rig, those in the passenger vehicle are less likely to escape without serious injuries or fatalities.
While most truck drivers try to drive responsibly, some trucking companies push them to ignore rest and mileage limits. Speeding and breaking traffic laws become even more problematic when delivery times govern whether a driver is fired. When big trucking companies value profit over lives, the risk of catastrophic heavy-truck accidents increases dramatically.
Semi-truck accident involvement in Virginia accidents
- January 17, 2019 – A 29-year-old man died after his small passenger car was pinned by a UPS tractor-trailer on a highway near Elliston; there was no injury to the UPS driver.
- March 12, 2019 – The female driver of a sedan was severely injured and taken to a major hospital after a collision with a semi-truck in Petersburg.
- March 12, 2019 –Two large trucks crashed on a Henrico County interstate. An illegally parked Freightliner tractor-trailer was on the shoulder of the road. When the driver pulled back onto the freeway, a FedEx tractor pulling double trailers swerved to miss the Freightliner moving into its path. The FedEx vehicle clipped the back end of the Freightliner truck, causing the FedEx truck to overturn. The driver, along with a passenger in the FedEx vehicle, sustained serious injuries.
- October 16, 2018 – In one incident, a fire truck was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer with defective brakes near Hanover, fatally injuring a fire lieutenant and injuring three more firefighters, who survived the accident. A second accident occurred in Chesterfield County when a tractor-trailer flipped over, slid through a guardrail and crashed into a heavily wooded area.
Occurrence of catastrophic tractor-trailer accidents
The United States Department of Transportation evaluates different types of heavy vehicle accidents through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The statistics have not been good. Heavy vehicles have a gross vehicle weight of five tons or over. Fully-loaded big rig tractor-trailers can weigh 40 tons. In a single year, heavy vehicles accounted for over 400,000 crashes reported by law enforcement; 4,000 fatalities occurred.
Montgomery County drivers need to take precautions when traveling near semi-trucks. They should drive defensively and never pass a semi-truck. Big rigs have massive blind spots surrounding their tractor-trailers. In addition, it is essential to never move into the space directly in front of a semi-truck because it takes a long time for such a large, heavy vehicle to stop. The best plan is for a passenger vehicle to move into the farthest lane away from a semi-truck and stay well behind the large truck. Passenger vehicle drivers must prepare for unexpected behavior from a tractor-trailer and drive accordingly in case they need room to get out of harm's way.