There's a saying that truckers keep America moving, and in some regards that is certainly true. A substantial percentage of products, equipment and supplies or materials get shipped over the roads instead of via train, plane or ship. Much of what you find in your local supermarket was probably delivered by a massive commercial truck.
Sadly, for all the good these trucks do for the American economy, they also pose a serious threat to everyone else on the road. Collisions with commercial vehicles can have catastrophic consequences, as the smaller vehicle will likely sustain serious damage, leaving the passengers at risk of severe injury or death.
The size difference accounts for much of the danger
The massive size and weight of a commercial truck is one of the main reasons these vehicles are so dangerous. In fact, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, as many as 97 percent of fatalities in collisions between commercial trucks and passenger vehicles are the people in the smaller vehicle.
The size of these vehicles is also what makes them more prone to a collision in the first place. Semitrucks and eighteen-wheelers take much longer to fully stop than smaller vehicles. Because of how the trailer attaches to the cab, they also make very wide turns. Combine that with major blind spots on either side, in front and behind these vehicles, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Commercial drivers are subject to stricter rules
In order to reduce the number of deaths and severe injuries associated with commercial vehicles, there are special rules and laws in place about commercial driving. Commercial drivers must complete special school to learn how to safely drive and maneuver these massive vehicles. They also face many more restrictions on how they drive.
For example, commercial drivers are held to a higher standard when it comes to intoxicated driving. While the average person faces arrest and criminal charges if a chemical test reveals a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher, commercial truck drivers face charges for a much lower BAC. They could face criminal charges and a loss of their commercial license for a BAC of 0.04 percent or higher.
The law limits drive time for commercial drivers
Unlike passenger drivers, commercial drivers have special limits placed on how long they can drive at any given time. These special Hours of Service rules aim to curb exhausted and fatigued driving, which can slow response time and increase the risk of dozing off behind the wheel.
While people in passenger vehicles can choose to drive all night while taking caffeine pills, truck drivers have federally mandated sleep and rest breaks, as well as special limits on how long they can drive in any given week.
Despite all these rules, accidents between commercial trucks and passenger vehicles still happen every day. For those who get injured or lose a loved one in a crash caused by a truck driver, there may be options for compensation, including a personal injury lawsuit.