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Part One: Truck accidents, by the numbers

Here in Raleigh, we have interstate highways coming at us from all directions. The biggest and most dangerous vehicles rolling down those strips of pavement are large commercial trucks hauling goods in and out of our city.

Tractor-trailers are especially dangerous to those of us in passenger vehicles. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says that 18-wheelers weigh 20 to 30 times as much as passenger cars and that big rigs are taller and have greater road clearance. That means that in tractor-trailer crashes, smaller cars, SUVs and pick-ups can underride the much larger vehicles.

It should be noted as well that commercial rigs are not only bigger, heavier and taller than passenger vehicles, but they are also much more difficult to maneuver and to slow down or bring to a stop.

The nonprofit IIHS says 18-wheelers require 20 to 40 percent more road distance than cars to come to a stop. And it gets even more difficult for the large vehicles to stop on wet roads or if the rig’s brakes are poorly maintained.

Another factor in commercial truck crashes: trucker fatigue. Truck drivers are allowed by federal regulations to drive up to 11 hours at a time. According to research, many truckers violate the rules and drive longer than allowed.

For all of these reasons, the IIHS says that “most deaths in large truck crashes are passenger vehicle occupants.”

If you look at the truck-crash data from 2016, you’ll see that of the nearly 4,000 people killed in those crashes, 66 percent were the occupants of passenger vehicles. Another 16 percent were pedestrians, motorcyclists or bicyclists. Just 17 percent were inside the 18-wheelers as either drivers or passengers.

If you or a loved one has been harmed in a tractor-trailer wreck, contact a lawyer experienced in personal injury and wrongful death litigation.

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