Vehicular accidents are among the most lethal and disruptive of the commonly occurring disasters that happen every day. The forces involved are enough to make your head spin. When cars crash at motorway speeds the wreckage and destruction involved beggars belief.
The average midsize car weighs in at around 3,300 pounds in total. A semi-truck pulling an empty trailer weighs around 35,000 pounds. While pulling a full load, they often weigh in excess of 75,000 pounds.
As you can imagine, any accident involving a semi-truck has the potential to spiral out of control causing significant widespread damage. Read on to find out more.
What Is a Semi-truck?
You’ll most likely be familiar with semi-trucks, even if you’re not completely sure how they classify. They’re the largest beasts on the road, characterized by their high cab, massive wheels, and spacious cargo hold. Otherwise known as big rigs or tractor-trailers, they’re what the American economy depends upon to carry freight across the country.
The tractor, the part of the vehicle where the driver sits, carries the brunt of the weight. Once hitched to the tractor with an articulated joint, the trailer can pivot more sharply than it would do otherwise. If you’ve ever wondered how these massive machines can turn so sharply, the magic is all in this semi-permanent joint.
The 2.9 million trucks on America’s roads are the lifeblood of commerce and capitalism, without which the economy would grind to a halt. With so many trucks on the road, accidents are inevitably going to happen. When they do, the results are often catastrophic for all involved.
Semi-trucks have to walk a fine line between delivering their cargo within a certain timeframe and doing it safely. Tens of thousands of pounds of metal hurtling along the road in tandem with similar weights in cargo is a safety concern for obvious reasons. These trucks are fitted with cutting-edge technology to ensure that margins of safety are as great as possible.
Commercial trucks are often required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to include blind-spot monitoring technology, lane-departure warning systems, air disc brakes, and forward video monitoring. The nature of these vehicles is one of immense size and weight. Due to their size and robust characteristics, the danger they pose to smaller vehicles and anything else around them is considerable.
A truck under heavy load traveling at 60 or 70mph will demolish anything it collides with, this includes other trucks, barriers, and even buildings. As such, their brakes are powerful enough to stop them dead after around 600 feet. To put this in comparison, a normal passenger vehicle only needs around 300 feet to stop, traveling at the same speed.
Despite the precautions taken to allay the many dangers associated with semi-trucks, accidents are bound to happen. All it takes is a single point of failure for catastrophe to occur. One of the most common points of failure in a semi-truck is its wheels, of which there are eighteen.
Trucks have so many wheels to reduce the contact pressure on the road, spreading the weight over a larger area. Simply put, the more wheels a truck has, the more weight it can carry. To a certain degree, this also helps to avoid catastrophic failure, as one blown tire won’t necessarily cause an accident.
However, if the conditions are right, a blown tire can cause a range of serious problems. A lot of what happens after a blown tire rests in the hands of the driver. The shock of a sudden blowout can cause even the most experienced truck driver to forget their training, which is often a fatal mistake.
Dealing With a Blown Tire
The unexpected scenario of ‘catastrophic air loss’ is every trucker’s worst nightmare. Depending on the position of the tire, the truck can continue to drive carefully to the nearest mechanical help station or potentially jack-knife into an oncoming lane of traffic. The severity of a blowout hinges on the specifics of the blowout, moment to moment.
A tire towards the back of the trailer suddenly losing air pressure isn’t as serious as you might think, as it’s surrounded by many others. They’ll often bear the weight of the deflated tire amongst them without much complaint, though it’s still far from an ideal scenario. The real danger occurs when the front tire of the cab experiences instantaneous deflation.
An accident on the highway is incredibly hard to avoid if a front tire blows. In an instant, the steering wheel will be ripped to the side with such energy that the driver might be forced to let go entirely. Even if the driver manages to hold on, the shock of what’s happening could lead him to stomp on the brakes, which is the worst possible thing they could do.
Semi-truck Accident Fallout
Even a professional driver’s first reaction to suffering a front wheel blowout can be to do the wrong thing. In a panic, it’s only natural to seek to halt the vehicle as quickly as possible. While driving, we’re conditioned to think of the brake pedal as the emergency button.
However, when you’ve got 60,000 pounds of cargo flying along behind you, this course of action is inadvisable. Applying the brake will cause the back end of the trailer to swing out to the side to compensate for the sudden arrest in forward momentum. This is commonly known as ‘jackknifing’ and describes a total loss of control over a vehicle and cargo.
If this happens on a busy highway, collision with other vehicles is all but assured. A pileup of twisted metal and wreckage happens in all but an instant. It only takes a handful of breaths for things to grind to a halt, leaving the able-bodied to contact the emergency services.
Typically semi-trucks will turn over under their inertia before screeching to a halt. The most common danger from this eventuality is the spilling of noxious and flammable liquids. A semi-truck can hold around 120 to 150 gallons of fuel when freshly filled and a punctured tank is a common occurrence at the scene of these terrible accidents.
Burn injuries are commonly sustained from the scene of an overturned truck, as well as spinal cord injuries, damage to internal organs, and broken bones. These types of crashes are common enough that emergency services have special procedures to follow and will arrive on the scene well-prepared to deal with the fallout.
Once you’ve got yourself to safety and had any potential damage to your person examined and treated, you might be entitled to legal compensation. Depending on the intricacies of the accident, lawyers are available to help guide you through the process of receiving what you’re due, for damage to property, mental health, or bodily harm sustained during the accident.
Houston, Texas Legal Advice
Contacting a lawyer and explaining your situation is a good idea once you’re out of harm’s way. If the accident was of no fault of your own, significant and fair compensation could be waiting for you if you choose to seek it. Damage to personal property and bodily harm through the fault of another is solid grounds for legal intervention.
It could pay to seek professional help to better understand your position, even if you’re unsure. Good law firms often offer a free consultation, so you’ve got nothing to lose. Finding the appropriate law firm that operates in the relevant area is often as simple as a quick Google search.
Try to find a law firm with a history of success in fighting for the best results for each client. Don’t be scared to inquire about success rates, professional law firms will be pleased to recount past successes and explain to you why they’re the best option. If in doubt, voice your fears and listen carefully to what you’re told, you might be pleasantly surprised.
Getting Back On Your Feet
Whether the accident happened to you directly as a truck driver, or you were caught up in the melee as an innocent bystander, it’s worth talking to a lawyer.
The world of legislation is murky to those who haven’t studied its intricacies. Hearing a professional opinion only takes a moment and could set you on the path to becoming whole again.
If this article helped shine some light on what happens when a semi-truck tire blows, be sure to check out the rest of the blog. You might find the information you’re looking for is just a click away!