Crashes between semi-trucks and passenger vehicles can be very severe. The smaller vehicles may incur massive damages, and the occupants of those vehicles are at high risk of major injuries.
Some of these crashes are similar to the average wreck between two passenger vehicles. They involve someone failing to use signals at an intersection or making another traffic mistake that causes a collision. Other times, a crash occurs in no small part because of the unique design of a commercial vehicle.
There are certain types of collisions that have a strong association with semi-trucks. The three types of crashes below frequently or exclusively involve commercial trucks.
Override and underride collisions
The size of a semi-truck can lead to an unusual kind of collision. If a passenger vehicle strikes a commercial truck from the rear or the side, an underride crash may occur. The momentum of the smaller vehicle may push it under the semi-truck. Underride crashes often cause catastrophic vehicle damage and severe injuries. Override collisions are equally dangerous. They occur when a commercial truck hits a passenger vehicle, often in a rear-end crash. The semi-truck may go up and over the smaller passenger vehicle.
Semi-trucks are very useful for commercial transportation because of the ability to quickly load and unload them. Drivers don’t need to wait to empty out the trailer they haul. Often, they only need to disconnect the trailer and drive away. Unfortunately, having that point of connection between two distinct components also creates crash risk. A jackknife incident occurs when a driver loses traction while driving. The trailer may end up moving in a different direction than the cab or tractor of the semi-truck. The angle that the two components create is what gives a jackknife crash its name.
Rollover collisions can potentially involve many different vehicles. High speeds and uneven weight distribution may increase the likelihood of a rollover collision occurring with standard passenger vehicles. Imbalanced semi-truck trailers, including improperly loaded trailers and liquid contents, can lead to a driver losing control when going around a corner or a curve. A semi-truck rollover could potentially shut down multiple lanes of traffic and damage several other vehicles simultaneously.
Understanding that semi-trucks can cause unpredictable and severe collisions may help people adopt better safety practices when traveling close to a semi-truck in traffic.