Rear-end tractor-trailer crashes in Florida occur in one of two ways. Either the 80,000 pound truck and trailer rear-ends the vehicle ahead of it, or the vehicle behind the tractor-trailer crashes into it. In either scenario, injuries can range from severe to fatal.
Tractor-Trailer vs. Passenger Vehicle:
When a fully loaded tractor-trailer rear-ends a passenger car, there is a tremendous transfer of energy from that truck to the passenger vehicle. Although the rear frame and body of the passenger vehicle might absorb some of that energy, the occupants of the vehicle also absorb it. That’s what leads to severe injuries, catastrophic injuries and fatalities.
The overwhelming majority of severe injuries and fatalities resulting from tractor-trailer crashes in Florida are drivers and passengers of family vehicles. A small passenger vehicle might way 3,000 to 4,000 pounds. A fully loaded tractor-trailer can weigh 20 times more than those vehicles. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, that tractor-trailer can require 20 to 40% more roadway to come to a complete stop than a passenger vehicle on dry pavement. Compare dry road stopping distances with wet roads, poorly maintained brakes and worn tires, and stopping distances increase drastically.
Drowsy or Fatigued Driving:
An abundance of studies have found that a tractor-trailer driver’s ability to recognize and react to a dangerous situation ahead can be delayed by fatigue or drowsiness as much or even more than if that driver had been consuming alcohol. On that basis, sleep deprivation can be as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or both.
Hours of Service Rules:
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has implemented hours of service rules for tractor-trailer drivers that mandate rest periods. The express purpose of these rules is to prevent driver fatigue, but given their tight delivery schedules, many drivers routinely cheat on these rules.
The front end and cab of a tractor trailer ride high. When a tractor-trailer impacts with a passenger vehicle ahead of it, the front of the truck can drive onto the top of that vehicle. An override crash like this occurred in November 2019 when a 40-year-old father of three from Land O’ Lakes died on Interstate 75. According to the Tampa Bay Times, a tractor-trailer failed to slow down for traffic stopped on the highway. Tragically, the truck came to rest on top of the man’s car, and both vehicles then caught fire.
Common Causes of Tractor-Trailer Rear-End Collisions:
Although it’s common for the insurers of truck drivers and their employers to attempt to deflect liability, here are some of the actual causes of tractor-trailer rear-end crashes in Florida:
- Distracted driving like talking on a cell phone, texting while driving or using an infotainment center.
- Driving too fast for traffic or weather conditions.
- Following a vehicle ahead too closely.
- Overloading of cargo.
- Poorly maintained brakes and worn tires.
When a passenger vehicle impacts with the rear of a tractor-trailer, it might slide under the rear of the truck. The underside of the trailer then penetrates the passenger vehicle when it shears off its roof. Injuries are often fatal or catastrophic. These types of crashes are often the result of a truck traveling at a slow speed upon entering a highway. The driver of the passenger vehicle is velocitized, and he or she doesn’t perceive the truck’s slow speed until it’s too late.
Underride guards are similar to a metal bumper, and they’re installed on many trailers for purposes of preventing passenger vehicles from sliding under trailers in rear end crashes. Although underride guards aren’t mandated by law, there might be accident scenarios when a trucking company could be found liable for damages in a civil case for not having them.
Contact a Tampa Truck Accident Lawyer.
There are often several parties responsible for truck accidents. If you were injured in a rear-end tractor-trailer accident, or if you lost a family member in one, contact out Tampa Truck Accident Lawyers to arrange for a free consultation and case review.