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18-wheelers likely to cause personal injury in accidents

Large tractor trailers are seemingly permanent fixtures on West Virginia interstates and highways. These large vehicles can be quite intimidating, and many drivers are familiar with the frightening sensation of one of these trucks passing by. However, this fear is not irrational, as 18-wheelers can cause serious personal injury and even death.

There is no denying that 18-wheelers are significantly larger than smaller passenger vehicles, but just how big are they? These trucks can weigh up to 30 times more than other motor vehicles and are usually carrying heavy loads. In an accident, they can exert much more force than typical motor vehicles. Combined with a high ground clearance and underride guards that often fail, even a minor accident can turn deadly.

It takes a significant amount of training, experience and awareness to man these large vehicles. Driver fatigue can increase the likelihood of accidents. Since the association between fatigue and crash risk is understood, federal regulations place limits on how long drivers may be behind the wheel. While this is certainly a step in the right direction, these limits may not be sufficient for preventing accidents. Current regulations allow drivers to spend up to 11 hours behind the wheel, and multiple surveys demonstrated that drivers often violate the hours-of-service regulation.

A third risk factor makes these vehicles especially dangerous -- braking capabilities. Large, heavy vehicles simply take longer to stop, and with a fatigued driver behind the wheel, it might be impossible to avoid a crash at the last minute. These types of accidents are often devastating, with West Virginia victims suffering catastrophic injuries that can require extensive medical treatment. Personal injury claims tend to be the most effective path for recovering related compensation, which can be applied to medical bills, lost wages and ongoing pain and suffering.

Source: iihs.org, "Large Trucks", Accessed on Dec. 5, 2017

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