At Jones & Swanson, we discuss the dangers associated with tractor trailer and 18 wheeler crashes often. This is because of the large number of serious injuries and deaths that occur in Georgia each year as a result of crashes involving passenger vehicles and big rigs.
In 2009, approximately 1,200 deaths occurred as a result of tractor trailer crashes in Georgia. Out of that total, 919 deaths were people in the passenger vehicle. These deaths, along with thousands of serious injuries, are a result of the larger size of 18 wheelers, their inability to brake or maneuver quickly, and dangerous cargo being carried. Tractor-trailers have been reported to weigh 16 times more than the typical passenger vehicle, which causes them to need much more space to come to a stop than smaller vehicles. This leads to truck drivers having difficulty avoiding dangers, such as other accidents or debris, because they need more space to change course. In the event that a truck is carrying flammable or dangerous materials as cargo, a minor crash can turn into a tragedy.
For this reason, there are federal standards in place to lessen the dangers associated with big rigs. Underride guards are the metal bars found on the rear of a tractor-trailer bumper. It is meant to stop a smaller vehicle from sliding beneath a big rig in the event of a rear-end crash. Unfortunately, the standards for these bars' design are out of date, which often leads to deadly crashes that could have been prevented.
Between 2010 and 2012, six citizens of Georgia lost their lives in crashes that involved cars being pinned under the backs of tractor-trailers. Many believe these deaths can be attributed to federal standards for underride guards having not been updated since 1998. Vehicle designs change and evolve each year, which means the standards of safety for these bars should be updated often as well.
Not only are the requirements for these bars out of date, but many trucks are equipped with broken guards, or those that are weak with rust. Many petitions have been started in an attempt to convince the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to take action and update safety standards for these underride guards. In addition, many citizens feel that there should be guards in place to protect underriding the side of a big rig, as these types of crashes lead to even more deaths than rear-end impact wrecks with 18-wheelers.
When you are driving near tractor-trailers, it is important for you to stay alert, leave plenty of space between your vehicle and the big rigs, and avoid distractions. These simple tips can ensure your safety on Georgia highways. Unfortunately, just because you are careful does not mean that truck drivers are using the same care. If you or someone you know is injured in a crash that was caused by a truck driver, you can demand accountability from the company or driver of the truck. It is important that you contact an attorney with experience representing victims of tractor trailer accidents as soon after the crash as possible so that evidence can be gathered.
For more information or a free consultation, contact Attorney Andrew Jones today at (770) 427-5498 or online at www.awjlaw.com.