Large urban hubs like Chicago see a great deal of freight being shipped through the city every day inside of 18-wheelers. But when large trucks and smaller passenger vehicles collide, those in the smaller trucks and cars are incredibly vulnerable to injuries and deaths.
A fully loaded semi truck can weigh up to 30 times the weight of a passenger car or light truck. The disparity in the weight and height give these big rigs higher ground clearance, heightening the risk of deadly underride accidents with vehicles that are built lower to the ground.
When coupled with the longer time it takes for a laden tractor-trailer to come to a full stop, a truck can travel as much as 40 percent farther than passenger vehicles before stopping. Factoring in the inclement weather that so often dominates the Chicago area, and the distance becomes even greater. Finally, not all trucks have properly maintained brakes that allow them to stop before a deadly disaster happens on the highway.
A further threat to the safety of all who share the roads with these large trucks is driver fatigue. This known crash risk is tied to the flouting of federal hours-of-service laws that permit truckers to remain behind the wheel for as many as 11 hours without a break, or as many as 77 hours during any seven-day stretch. These rules are violated regularly in order to meet the impossible demands of some trucking companies that don't mind putting safety on the back burner if it increases their coffers.
Statistics from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System of the federal Department of Transportation indicate that in 2014 alone, 3,660 individuals lost their lives in big rig wrecks. Of that total, 16 percent were drivers or passengers in the large trucks. The vast majority of those who died — 68 percent — were in passenger vehicles. An additional 15 percent were either motorcyclists, bicyclists or pedestrians,
If you are injured in a wreck involving a large truck, it may be possible to recover damages from the insurer of both the driver and also of the trucking company that employed them.
Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, "Large Trucks," accessed April 15, 2016