Common Types of Truck Accidents in Kansas
Because semi-trucks are so massive and heavy, any accident involving one of these large vehicles is a serious situation.
Thankfully, worst-case scenarios tend to be somewhat rare. According to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for 2020, only 1 percent of the 415,000 police-reported truck accidents resulted in a fatality. Unfortunately, 24 percent of large truck crashes in 2020 resulted in an injury. Federal data also showed that these accidents tend to happen on Interstate roads and in rural areas. Truck accidents also overwhelmingly took place on weekdays.
Data from the federal administration also revealed some interesting facts about fatal truck accidents. In 2020, there were 13.49 fatal truck accidents per one million Americans. This represents a 27 percent increase from 10.6 fatal accidents per million people in 2010. In 2020, there was an average of 1.12 fatalities per fatal truck accident, and in 83 percent of fatal crashes, the people who died were not occupants of a large truck.
Common Types of Truck Accidents in Kansas
Because truck accidents can have very serious consequences, it’s important to know about the common types of truck accidents in Kansas and how they can be avoided. While many types of truck accidents are similar to accidents involving passenger vehicles, there are types of accidents that are unique to large trucks. With this in mind, consider the following types of truck accidents:
Read End Collisions
Rear-end collisions can happen between any two types of vehicles. When a large truck is involved, these collisions can be much more serious because of the greater force created by a large vehicle carrying heavy cargo. Drivers can avoid rear-end collisions by not following another vehicle too closely and by not braking too suddenly.
Head-on collisions can also happen between any two kinds of vehicles, but they are more dangerous when a large truck is involved. Most of the time, a head-on collision occurs when a vehicle crosses over into oncoming traffic or enters a highway traveling in the wrong direction. Distracted driving and intoxication can also play a role in head-on collisions.
When a large truck blows out one of the tires, it can be very dangerous. One of the main causes of tire blowouts on large trucks is improperly inflated tires. Overinflated tires cause tire treads to wear down faster in the middle of the tire, while underinflated tires result in fast wear on the outsides of a tire. An overloaded trailer can also increase the risk of tire blowout because too much weight can put too much pressure on a set of tires.
A rollover accident is any truck accident that involves a truck overturning onto its side or top. This type of accident can be very violent and dangerous. Fortunately, this type of truck accident doesn’t tend to result in as many fatalities as other types of accidents. According to federal data, only 4 percent of fatal truck accidents involved a rollover.
A rollover truck accident happens because a driver loses control of their vehicle. This might happen because of driver errors, such as driving too fast, taking a turn too fast, riding up on a curb, or overcorrecting after drifting outside a lane on the roadway. Loss of control that leads to a rollover accident could also happen due to circumstances outside a driver’s control, such as another vehicle driving recklessly, an unexpected incline or decline in the roadway, or a strong gust of wind.
While these accidents aren’t completely unavoidable, truck drivers should know the limits of their vehicles and always keep them under control. Truck drivers should also be vigilant when it comes to monitoring road conditions. Drivers of other vehicles should always give trucks additional clearance and respect that these vehicles are harder to control than cars.
A semi-truck “jackknifes” when the tractor and the trailer become separated from one another to create an angle. If you have ever seen a truck jackknife, you know that it can be frightening to witness, as it’s apparent the driver has lost control of their vehicle. Once a truck has achieved a jackknife position, there isn’t much a driver or anyone else can do to stop its momentum. It’s common for a jackknifed trailer to drift into other lanes of traffic, and this can lead to multi-vehicle accidents, serious injuries, and fatalities.
Fortunately, it tends to be a pretty rare occurrence, as only 5.6 percent of fatal accidents involving a tractor-trailer also involved jackknifing, according to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration data.
A truck driver braking too quickly — often to avoid another vehicle or hazard on the road — is the primary cause of jackknifing. This is because a tractor tends to break more rapidly than a trailer, And the difference in velocities can lead to the trailer rotating to the left or right.
Along with jackknifing, this is another type of truck accident that is specific to large trucks. When a tractor-trailer must make a right turn, the driver must swing the cab slightly to the left to get adequate space to turn around the corner. But before a driver can make that slight swing to the left, they must check for any vehicles or bicyclists that may be behind or alongside them.
For a moment, it might look like a truck making a wide turn is attempting to merge into the left lane or make a left turn. Motorists or bicyclists behind them may try to pass them on the right, and when the truck driver swings their cab to the right to make a wide turn, it can trap or “squeeze” the motorist or bicyclist between the cab of the truck and the trailer. This can lead to serious injuries or even death.
Drivers can help to avoid this type of accident by making sure they use the right turn signal to indicate their intentions to people around them. Other motorists can avoid this type of accident by not passing large trucks on the right.
If a small vehicle is following a truck too closely and the truck brakes suddenly, it can lead to the small vehicle going underneath the rear wheels and getting trapped underneath the back of the trailer. As you can probably imagine, underride accidents are some of the deadliest types of truck accidents. Other drivers can avoid these types of truck accidents by not following tractor-trailers too closely. Also, truck drivers can avoid these types of truck accidents by not braking unexpectedly or too quickly.
Blind Spot Accidents
Everyone who learns to drive a car becomes aware of the fact that every vehicle has blind spots or areas to the back and sides of a vehicle that aren’t easily seen using rearview mirrors. Larger vehicles have larger blind spots, and large trucks can’t see vehicles directly behind them and traveling closely.
Other motorists should be aware of these large blind spots and avoid lingering in them for too long. Truck drivers should also be aware of their blind spots and note any vehicles entering them.
Unfortunately, brake failure is a fairly common cause of fatal truck accidents. One federal study showed nearly 30 percent of all large truck accidents involved brake failure. This can be caused by poor maintenance, bad break insulation, and overheating from overuse.
Truck drivers and companies are held to high standards when it comes to brake maintenance. Drivers are also properly trained on how to use their brakes. Unfortunately, drivers of other vehicles have no idea if brakes have not been properly maintained or if a driver has been using their brakes irresponsibly.
Truck accidents involving spilled cargo happen quite frequently and can be dangerous situations. And not just for people on the roads. In February 2023, a truck crash in Arizona caused the release of toxic airborne chemicals, resulting in the evacuation of the surrounding area. Truck drivers hauling toxic or dangerous chemicals should follow every safety precaution and act responsibly. Drivers of other vehicles should give wide berths to any trucks with signs indicating they are carrying dangerous chemicals.
How Can Bretz Injury Law Help?
At Bretz Injury Law, our Kansas-based attorneys are experienced with all kinds of truck accidents, from rollover accidents to situations involving brake failure. Our experienced lawyers have a deep understanding of semi trucks, including best practices for driving and maintenance.
Unlike lawyers at other firms who rush to get a settlement as quickly as possible, our attorneys are dedicated to resolving your case, even if it means going to court. In fact, we’ve had many cases referred to our firm from other law firms looking to avoid going to court.
Our attorneys will visit you as you recover from an accident no matter where you’re located in Kansas, visit the scene to document evidence, investigate a trucking company, and speak to witnesses.
If you would like to know how our dedicated team of lawyers could handle your case, contact us online or call 620-RESULTS today. Our Kansas-based team is waiting to offer a compassionate ear and strong legal advice based on many years of experience.