Were You Hurt in a Head-On Trucking Accident?
A head on truck crash happens where the front end of a semi or other big truck collides head on with the front of a car or other vehicle going the opposite way. Fully loaded semi trucks can weigh more than 80,000 pounds. You can easily understand the huge impact which can happen when one of these trucks, moving at highway speed, crashes head on into another vehicle or object. The high risk of fatal or catastrophic injury in head on truck wrecks is obvious.
Head-on truck accidents usually happen when one of the vehicles leaves its proper lane, moves across the center line and toward oncoming traffic approaching in the opposite direction. Most head on crashes happen on undivided highways. Because there is no physical barrier the margin for error on undivided highways is less. On divided highways a vehicle may leave its side of the highway, cross the median and enter lanes on which traffic from the opposite direction is moving.
In some head on truck accidents the truck is the vehicle which moves across the center line and is at fault. In other cases the car is the one which moves across the center line into the path of the 18 wheeler or other big truck. While some head on truck accidents happen on curves, most occur on straight roads are not related to passing.
In a head on truck crash the front ends of the vehicles receive the main impact of the collision. This and the big weight difference between an 18 wheeler and car or other smaller passenger vehicle often results in serious or fatal injury to the the the driver and front passengers of the smaller other smaller vehicle. The size and weight of the truck – for example, a tractor-trailer or an 18-wheeler – could easily crush or throw aside a regular passenger vehicle with its occupants. An experienced head on accident lawyer has probably seen how tragic these crashes can be.
A front collision between a semi or other large truck and a passenger vehicle can also cause an override accident. This is when a massive commercial vehicle ‘rides over’ the much-smaller car, crushing the car’s occupants. In this kind of wreck, permanent injuries and or a fatal truck accident are common.
Causes Of Truck Head-On Crashes
Why and how do trucks collide head-on with cars? Typically, this results when one of the vehicles inadvertently crosses into the opposite lane. Very often, it can be traced back to a certain party’s negligence. In more than 20 years as an accident lawyer at Flick Law Firm, we’ve shown the negligence of truck drivers and trucking companies in truck wreck cases. These are among the most common negligent actions of truckers that lead to head-on wrecks:
- Passing. Improperly or unsafely crossing the center line to pass another vehicle can cause a head on truck crash. Being able to see on-coming traffic and have it see the truck are essential to safe passing. Locations where visibility of oncoming traffic is obstructed by curves, hills, fog, smoke, darkness or other conditions are dangerous areas to pass.
- Speed. Speeding or driving to fast for conditions is one of the most common causes of head on accidents where the truck is at fault. Excessive speed can cause loss of control and require more time and space to stop and maneuver the truck. If a truck driver feels the need to repeatedly pass other vehicles, with the hazards that come with passing, they may be driving too fast. At high speed a large truck can easily drift outside its lane faster.
- Distracted driving. Distraction and other driver inattention are another major cause of head on truck crashes. Truck drivers face many distractions while on the road, such as their cellphones, a GPS, device, and other vehicle equipment. A split-second of inattention could result in the semi or other big truck to cross the center line into oncoming traffic.
- Driver fatigue. This is often a cause of driver inattention and distraction. It is also one of the top causes of truck accidents in general. With long hours on the road and a schedule to keep, many truck drivers end up tired or drowsy at the wheel, losing their ability to control their vehicle properly. To reduce the frequency of driver fatigue caused crashes Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations limit the number of hours a trucker is allowed to be on duty and drive. Unfortunately trucking companies and drivers are known violate these rules and work and drive longer than permitted. An experienced head on truck attorney will likely investigate potential violations of these rules of their work on your case.
- Weather Conditions. Rain slick roads and slippery conditions like those caused by ice and snow are a known cause of head on truck accidents. Under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation 392.14 truck drivers are required to use extreme caution which snow and ice affect traction or visibility. If the road conditions are dangerous enough the truck is required to pull off the road and wait until it is safe to drive again.
- Impaired driving. A truck driver who is intoxicated with alcohol or drugs is likely to have poor decision-making ability and reaction time, making them unfit to control a vehicle.
- Untrained driver. Operating a truck is much more complex than driving a car. For one, trucks are more difficult to maneuver, especially when navigating curves and corners. An insufficiently trained truck driver might fail this maneuver and cause a collision.
- Poor vehicle maintenance. Head on truck accident can be caused by brakes or other parts like tires and steering gear that are defective, improperly maintained and don’t work up to specifications. Unfortunately, some trucking companies cut corners on maintaining their trucks endangering the safety of the traveling public and their drivers.
How Trucking Companies Can Help Prevent Head On Crashes
Some steps trucking companies can take to reduce the likelihood of being involved in a head-on accident are:
- Prevent Fatigued Driving.- Ensure that truck drivers comply with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation Hours-of-Service rules which limit truckers driving and work hours, require specified breaks and time off.
- Route Planning– Routing trucks on divided highways can reduce the risk of a head-on truck crash caused by improper passing or crossing the center line.
- Hazardous Conditions- Train drivers in proper techniques for driving in adverse conditions. Make sure that drivers follow rules about when to stop driving and that safety equipment like lights, defrosters, windshield wipers and washers are properly maintained and functioning.
- Speed Management. Making sure that truck drivers and complying with speed limits and driving at speeds which are safe for conditions. Technology broadly available to the trucking industry makes monitoring truckers compliance with speed limits much easier.
- Equipment Maintenance– Safety critical components like tires, wheels, brakes and steering gear need to be safe and operating properly.
- Driver Training– Making sure that drivers are properly trained.
Injuries And Fatalities From Truck Front Crashes
Hundreds of thousands of truck accidents occur in the US every year and, in thousands of those crashes, people are killed. According to federal statistics, in 2017 more than four thousand people died in truck collisions, and most of them were occupants of passenger vehicles.
Survivors of these truck wrecks are often left with serious, and sometimes permanent, injuries. These include traumatic brain injuries (TBI), spine injuries, internal organ damage, fractures, paralysis, and amputation.
Just in the past few months, Kansas and Missouri have had their share of head-on truck accident fatalities and injuries. In December of 2018, a woman died after a truck drove through the median and onto her side of the road in Strafford, MO. The following March, a head-on collision between a utility truck and a car triggered a multi-vehicle wreck that killed a man in Hillsboro, MO. And just this April, a cattle truck and a car collided head-on in Potwin, KS, resulting in the death of the car driver.
Call Flick Law Firm For Your Truck Accident Case
A traffic collision involving a large truck is often complicated and distressing. But if you or someone in your family has been seriously hurt in such an accident, you may have every right to pursue the compensation you deserve. In Missouri or Kansas, call the Flick Law Firm. The Flick Law Firm is a trusted and experienced law firm based in the Kansas City area focused on handling truck accident injury cases throughout Kansas and Missouri. Talk to us today about your accident.
Lawrence Flick is the editorial supervisor of this page and last edited this page on May 14, 2021.