There are few, if any, accidents that are more destructive and deadly than head-on collisions involving a large commercial truck. In fact, approximately 60% of fatal truck accidents involving a truck and a passenger vehicle are caused by head-on collisions. Unfortunately, the occupants of a passenger vehicle have little chance of surviving this type of accident, and if they do, they often suffer very serious injuries. The average commercial truck weighs 20 times more than a passenger vehicle, which means that the force of the impact that occurs when the two vehicles collide is catastrophic. Many of these devastating accidents can be prevented by understanding some of the common causes of head-on collisions and taking the necessary steps to avoid them. If a motorist is involved in a head-on collision and is fortunate enough to survive, he or she is urged to contact an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.
How Common are Head-On Truck Accidents?
A head-on truck accident occurs when the front of a truck collides head-on with the front on another vehicle. Unfortunately, head-on truck accidents are more common than one might think, although it should come as no surprise that the most destructive and deadly head-on collisions are the one that involve big rigs. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 57.5% of all fatal truck accidents involving large trucks were head-on collisions. That means that over 2,000 people die and more than 40,000 people suffer serious injuries from these types of accidents. In the vast majority of head-on truck accidents, it is the occupants of the passenger vehicles involved in the accident who suffer fatal injuries.
What are the Common Causes of Head-On Truck Accidents?
There are a number of factors that can increase the risk of a devastating head-on truck accident, the majority of which are caused by some type of driver error. The following are examples of some of the most common causes of head-on truck accidents:
- Speeding: If a truck driver is speeding to meet a tight deadline or make an emergency delivery, not only can this increase the risk of a devastating accident, but also speeding can cause the resulting injuries and property damage to be even more severe because of the extreme force of impact.
- Impaired driving: The last thing a truck driver should do before getting behind the wheel of a massive 80,000-pound commercial truck is to consume drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, according to the FMCSA, over half of the truck drivers who were tested had some type of stimulant in their system, 34% tested positive for marijuana, 17% had narcotics in their system, and 11% tested positive for alcohol. Certain over-the-counter medication can also impair the driver’s ability to safely operate a large truck.
- Drowsy driving: This has been, and continues to be, a serious problem in the trucking industry. Even though there are hours of service (HOS) regulations that truck drivers are expected to follow, they often exceed these hours to meet their tight delivery deadlines. Unfortunately, this unsafe driving behavior can cause truck drivers to become less focused, have a slower reaction time to unexpected traffic situations, and become easily distracted. In extreme cases, the truck driver may fall asleep at the wheel.
- Distracted driving: This is also a growing problem among truck drivers. In fact, distracted driving is one of the main reasons why many truck companies have installed on-board camera technology. Common distractions include talking on the phone, reading or sending a text or email message, and checking social media. Unfortunately, one moment of distraction can have devastating consequences if it causes a head-on accident. It takes an average of five seconds to send a text, which is comparable to driving the length of a football field blindfolded if the truck driver is traveling at a speed of 55 mph.
- Work zone hazards: Shifting lanes, road closures, and other factors can increase the risk of a head-on collision with a large truck if the truck driver is driving too fast or he or she is not paying attention to the changing road conditions. A large truck requires 50% more road space to come to a complete stop, and even more if the truck is traveling at a higher speed.
- Brake failure: Truck drivers and truck companies are responsible for making sure that their trucks are properly maintained and that any necessary repairs are made. This includes ensuring that the brakes are in good working order. A failure to do this can result in the truck driver being unable to slow down or stop in time to avoid a head-on collision with another vehicle.
- Navigating curves: This can be tricky, particularly when the truck driver must navigate a sharp curve. If the truck driver is drowsy, distracted, inexperienced, or simply not paying close attention to the curve in the road, he or she can take the curve too wide and end up in the lane of oncoming traffic, causing a head-on collision.
What Types of Injuries Do Head-On Truck Accidents Cause?
Sadly, many of these accidents result in fatalities. If the occupants of the passenger vehicle do survive the accident, it is likely that they will have suffered severe, life-threatening injuries. The following are example of injuries that can occur in a head-on truck collision:
- Back and neck injuries
- Broken bones
- Internal injuries and organ damage
- Severe burns
- Spine injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
What Should I Do if I Am Involved in a Truck Accident?
If a motorist is seriously injured in a head-on truck accident caused by a negligent truck driver, someone should call 911 immediately. The injured party should not try to move, as it could further aggravate injuries, particularly if the victim suffered serious neck or spine injuries. It is important to stay at the scene until police and emergency medical technicians arrive. The vehicle should not be moved unless it is unsafe to leave it where it is, or the damage to the vehicle is too extensive. The driver should turn on the hazard lights and wait for help to arrive.
To collect financial compensation, the injured victim must file a personal injury lawsuit against the truck driver. If the victim is physically able to do so, he or she should collect the following information at the accident scene:
- The truck driver’s name, driver’s license number, license plate number, and the name of his or her employer
- Truck driver’s insurance information
- Contact information of witnesses who saw the accident happen
- Photos of the accident scene, including damage to the vehicles, skid marks on the road, and the victim’s injuries
What can Motorists Do to Avoid a Head-On Truck Accident?
Motorists should always use extra caution when traveling in the vicinity of a large commercial truck. The FMCSA offers the following safety tips that can help drivers avoid being seriously injured or killed in a head-on truck accident:
- Avoid a truck’s blind spot: Trucks have much larger blind spots than passenger vehicles. If a motorist is driving in one of these blind spots, also known as No Zones, he or she should slow down, speed up, or change lanes so that the truck driver can clearly see the car. If the driver in the passenger vehicle cannot see the truck driver in the side mirror, the truck driver cannot see the car.
- Avoid distractions: Distracted driving can cause motorists to drift into the wrong lane or into oncoming traffic. It can also make motorists less likely to notice when another vehicle, including a large truck, is driving the wrong way on a one-way street. Motorists whose attention is focused on the road will be able to see the vehicle and take the necessary steps to warn the driver and other vehicles in the vicinity by honking the horn, flashing his or her lights, and moving into another lane to avoid being hit.
- Stay awake and alert: Motorists who keep their attention focused on the road ahead, get plenty of sleep, and avoid consuming any drugs or alcohol are less likely to be involved in a head-on collision with a large truck.
- Buckle up: Wearing a seat belt will not prevent a truck accident, but it may prevent a fatal injury or reduce the severity of the injuries if a truck accident does happen.
Los Angeles Truck Accident Lawyers at ACTS Law Seek Justice for Victims of Head-On Truck Accidents
If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a head-on truck accident, do not hesitate to contact the Los Angeles truck accident lawyers at ACTS Law. We understand how devastating these accidents can be, and that it is the occupants of the passenger vehicles who suffer the most severe, often life-threatening injuries. Our skilled legal team has a proven track record of reaching successful settlement for victims of truck accidents. We will determine whether the truck driver, trucking company, or big rig manufacturer was negligent in any way and seek all entitled compensation you deserve. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 833-ACTS-LAW or contact us online. With offices located in Los Angeles and San Diego, we serve clients throughout Southern California.