Any type of vehicle accident can lead to serious injuries. However, there is evidence that crashes involving semi-trucks tend to be more severe than others are, on average. The odds of a fatality are higher, as are the odds of more serious injuries – especially for people traveling in vehicles other than large trucks.
It’s important to consider the physics of various accidents. When two objects collide, the energy transferred between both is based on the mass and speed of those objects. While both vehicles may be traveling at the same speed, the semi has far greater mass that will be exerted on the smaller vehicle upon impact.
This means that the smaller vehicle is more likely to be pushed backward. This energy also transfers through the people within that vehicle, leading to more serious injuries. There can be cases in which a small passenger vehicle is completely destroyed and everyone inside is seriously injured, but the driver in a semi-truck isn’t hurt at all because they were protected by the height, weight and size of their vehicle.
The risk of underride accidents
Another reason that truck injuries tend to be so severe is that some of these crashes can involve underride accidents. This happens when a small vehicle goes underneath the frame of a large truck, often between the wheels on the trailer.
In pictures of these accidents, the risk becomes clear. The impact point is so high. The small vehicle is under the trailer, and the edge of the trailer can impact the front windshield in the passenger compartment. People in that smaller vehicle are therefore more likely to sustain neck or head injuries. Traumatic brain injuries and fatalities are also common. Many safety systems, like the crumple zones built into modern cars, are only designed to work with other vehicles of a similar size. A semi-truck avoids them because it is just too tall to collide with those crumple zones at all.
Trucking accident injuries can be life-changing. If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, or a loved one has sustained harm in this way, know that you can seek legal guidance at any time to determine whether you’re owed significant compensation and, if so, how to secure it.