Tractor trailer trucks, also called 18 wheelers, semi-tractor trailers or transfer trucks, are a very large majority of the traffic on our highways. If you have driven on I-77, I-85 or any other major roadway in North Carolina recently, you have probably noticed and thought about the volume of large trucks you have encountered. Surprisingly, tractor trailer trucks hauled over 70 percent of all freight transported in the United States last year. Truck drivers are essential workers, and without them, all manner of other essential services would be impacted, such as hospitals, gas stations, ATMs, and grocery stores.
However, you should be aware that truck crash fatalities have risen in recent years. Deaths in crashes involving large trucks increased by 5 percent from 2016 to 2017, and 1 percent from 2017 to 2018. In 2018, nationwide, 4,951 people were killed in crashes involving large trucks. Seventy-one percent of those killed were occupants of other vehicles. Additionally, large trucks were more likely to be involved in fatal multiple-vehicle crashes as opposed to fatal single vehicle crashes than were passenger vehicles. Across the nation, large trucks made up 9.4 percent of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes, while in North Carolina, that number was 8.1 percent.
In North Carolina, there were 6,143 crashes involving tractor-trailer trucks in 2019. A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the University of North Carolina, and the State Highway Patrol, found that crashes involving large trucks usually occurred on weekdays and on major roadways. Thirty-eight percent of the crashes were fatal. Seventy-three percent of crash-involved trucks had vehicle defects. Having driven more than twelve hours since the last main sleep was associated with an 86% increase in crash risk.
Commercial truck drivers are held to rigorous standards because of the substantial risk of injury and death should an 18-wheeler, tractor trailer, be involved in a collision. A tractor trailer driver must hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL). The North Carolina CDL manual can be found online: https://www.ncdot.gov/dmv/license-id/driver-licenses/new-drivers/Documents/commercial-driver-manual.pdf.
If you have been involved in an accident with a large truck, whether as a driver, passenger, pedestrian, or motorcyclist, and are seeking compensation for your injuries, call our law office for help evaluating your claim and guiding you through the process. You can reach us by phone at (704) 321-4878 or contact us online for more information.