Truck crashes are among the most dangerous and deadly incidents that happen on our nation’s roadways. In 2014, a total of 3,660 people were killed in large truck crashes. Many of these deaths were caused by rollover crashes, in which the commercial vehicle becomes unstable and flips on the road. Researchers at the University of Michigan describe these accidents as especially violent and state this type of crash causes greater damage and more injuries than other types of accidents.
The statistics are serious. Of those killed in large truck crashes, nearly 68 percent were the passengers of cars and other vehicles. In rollover crashes, the danger is heightened for everyone. Over half of truck occupant deaths that same year occurred in rollover crashes. In an effort to prevent these crashes, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has finalized a new rule requiring large trucks to implement electronic stability control (ESC) systems by 2018.
Large Trucks Are More Susceptible to Rollover Crashes
By their very nature, large trucks are more susceptible to rollover crashes. Some common factors that contribute to truck rollover accidents include:
- Vehicle design. Trucks are taller and heavier than most other vehicles on the road. They have a lower level of basic stability, according to the University of Michigan study.
- Braking issues. Poor maintenance often leads to issues with the brakes. It is important for large trucks have the ability to brake within a certain distance. When this is compromised, both road conditions and driver reaction can lead to a rollover.
- Cargo factors. Truck cargo can shift during travel, especially liquid loads. As the cargo shifts in response to truck speed, road makeup or driver maneuvers, it can lower the stability of the vehicle.
- Driver error. One study cited driver errors as the main contributors to rollover crashes. When drivers fail to adjust speed properly, over steer, or are inattentive, the danger of a rollover crash increases.
Electronic Stability Control Seeks to Reduce These Risks
An electronic stability control system can sense when a vehicle is about to lose control. These systems can affect engine torque and brake individual wheels to maintain the stability of a truck. Often, a driver will panic in response to a deviation from the intended path, which can result in over steering or under steering the vehicle. They may not apply the brakes quickly enough, or apply the brake too strongly. The ESC system will override the driver to help the vehicle maintain its proper path. The NHTSA estimates that requiring these systems on large trucks can save up to 50 lives each year and prevent 1,700 accidents. The rule will go into effect for all vehicles manufactured after August 2017.
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a large truck crash, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact a member of the experienced legal team at the Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm today to learn more about your rights and truck accident cases.