Proceed with Caution: Recent Midwest Crash Demonstrates why Truck Crashes are so Dangerous

May 27, 2020

Large trucks moving in interstate travel is a key part of our economy, but also poses significant risks to other drivers. In fact, several transportation agencies have published reports documenting the potential dangers associated with these large vehicles, which can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Drivers in the Midwest should be especially aware of these risks in light of the increased highway traffic crossing through Illinois and other nearby states. Today’s blog provides readers with background information on truck crashes, offers a case study on this topic, and outlines a few quick tips for safe driving. 

Background on Truck Crashes

Given the sheer size and power of a truck traveling at top speeds, it is not difficult to imagine how dangerous truck crashes can be. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (“IIHS”), trucks can weigh up to 30 times more than a typical passenger car. Moreover, trucks require much longer stopping distances than passenger cars, and their drivers typically embark on cross-country trips subject only to the federal maximum hours limit of 11 consecutive driving hours. 

The statistics back up these assumed dangers underlying high-speed travel by large trucks. In the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (“FMCSA”) latest report on large truck and bus crash facts, it reported that 4,889 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes in 2017 (a 9% increase from 2016), and approximately 116,000 were involved in crashes in which someone was injured (a 4% increase from 2016). Notably, after dipping down to 60,000 total injury crashes in 2009, these numbers have nearly doubled in eight years. Furthermore, based on the IIHS’s preliminary analysis for 2018, of the fatal crashes involving one passenger car and a large trucks, “96% of the deaths were occupants of the passenger vehicles.”

Case Study: What are the Potential Legal Consequences of a Deadly Truck Crash?

The Midwest is an economic hub for many prominent trades, one of which is the trucking industry. In this sense, Chicago could even be considered the “crossroads of America” given its strategic location and plethora of businesses. However, this concentration of trucking business crossing Midwest boundaries also inevitably leads to a number of deadly crashes in states such as Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana. 

For example, in September 2019, Indianapolis resident Sue Ann Beaudoin was involved in a deadly crash initiated by the reckless driving of a local dump truck driver. Specifically, the driver, who had a number of documented issues with reckless driving and substance abuse, crashed into a total of 11 cars stopped at a red light after admittedly using heroine before driving. As a result, an elderly Indiana couple, Gerald and Rhonda Legan, died, and Beaudoin is now paralyzed from the waste down. Following this devastating crash, the Legans’ estate filed a wrongful death lawsuit, and just last month, Beaudoin filed a negligence action against the driver and the company operating the dump truck. As Beaudoin stated, “[i]n just moments, my life was in shambles.”

How to Avoid Truck Crashes

Despite the facts outlined above, the reality is that these massive vehicles share the same roads as everyone else. Therefore, we must exercise extreme caution on the roads to avoid the potentially devastating consequences on a truck crash. Here are a few tips for highway drivers:

  • Keep a safe distance. As mentioned above, trucks are far more restricted in terms of maneuverability and stopping distance. Thus, other drivers should allow extra space in between their vehicles and large trucks on the road, especially if the driving conditions are slippery or foggy. 
  • Anticipate turns. Along with keeping their distance, drivers should be aware of the wide turning radius that a truck requires. If a truck is signaling to turn in one direction, drivers in that same direction should slow down and avoid passing the truck on that same side. 
  • Be aware of the blind spots. Since drivers of large trucks have limited visibility, other drivers should always keep an eye on the truck driver’s mirrors. If you cannot see the truck driver in their mirrors, they likely cannot see you. 
  • Pass in the left lane. Due to a truck driver’s blind spots, highway safety manuals generally advise other vechicles to pass trucks on the driver’s side, i.e., to the left of the truck. 

About Coffman Law Offices, P.C.

Coffman Law is committed to providing superb legal representation for people who are suffering from severe personal injuries or are dealing with the loss of a loved one due to negligence or misconduct. Coffman Law is a results-driven firm focused on ensuring that clients receive the compassion, attention, and consideration that they need to seek adequate redress for injuries or loss. The firm is led by Owner and Founding Partner Brian Coffman, who has dedicated his career to helping accident victims navigate the legal system and obtain redress for their injuries. If you have been injured or lost a loved one, contact Coffman Law today for a free consultation.