Every Maryland driver must understand that the potential for being involved in traffic accident with a large commercial motor vehicle is a sad, yet inevitable side-effect of sharing the roadways with these large vehicles, in only because modern, large-scale commerce would be virtually impossible without the use of 18-wheelers, fuel tanker trucks, commercial delivery trucks and large construction vehicles. Of course, it doesn’t excuse those truckers from causing a crash, especially if they are found to have operated their vehicle in a negligent manner.
As Baltimore personal injury attorneys, I and my staff of legal professionals understand that after any accident — regardless of whether it is between two passenger cars, an SUV and a pedestrian on foot, a single motorcycle that crashes due to poor roadway maintenance, or a minivan hit by a large 18-wheeler — it is important to assess the situation and determine which party or parties was at fault. This is especially critical in cases where the victims has sustained serious and life-altering injuries, such as spinal cord damage, closed-head trauma or amputated limbs.
As any driver in the Baltimore, Gaithersburg or Washington, D.C., area has likely seen, the aftermath of a commercial trucking accident can be extensive and devastating. Traffic accidents involving these behemoths can turn a standard passenger car into a crumpled, nearly unrecognizable pile of metal and plastic. And no surprise; these large trucks can weigh upward of 80,000 pounds. Compare that to even a good-sized sport utility vehicle at 4,000 pounds; there is no comparison and little defense when such a large and massive commercial vehicle slams into a light-weight passenger vehicle.
In the past, the researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute have determined that the chances of a person in a passenger car being killed when caught up in a crash with a large 18-wheeler increases with every ton of weight on a large truck. For example, a tractor-trailer loaded to 80,000 pounds is twice as likely to cause a fatality between it and a passenger car than a truck weighing just 50,000 pounds.
Put in different terms, highway engineers know that a commercial truck weighing 80,000 pounds can do as much damage to the surface of any particular stretch of roadway as the equivalent of 9,600 passenger cars traveling over the same route in the same amount of time. For this reason alone it should not be surprising that owners of large commercial trucking concerns have a legal obligation maintain their commercial trucking fleets in proper and safe operating condition.
Regardless of whether a commercial trucking company maintains its vehicles well, the ultimate responsibility for lives on our highways is the truck driver himself. Without the proper training, necessary attention to safe operation and adherence to state and federal trucking regulations, a negligent truck driver can put a number of people into the hospital with just one serious accident. Never mind the true possibility of causing a fatal car-truck accident with just one moment of inattention.
Of course, the opposite can be true as well, especially when a motorist does not consider the physics of the situation when approaching a large tractor-trailer or other commercial motor vehicle. A crash in Howard County made us think about this the other day. According to a news article, three victims died in a collision on Maryalnd’s Rte 1 when a speeding car apparently struck a tractor trailer from behind and ended up going almost completely under the trailer portion. Based on police reports, the semi was executing a turn from the northbound lanes of Rte 1 when a southbound passenger vehicle slammed into the truck.
According to reports, police believed that speed was a significant factor in the accident, which occurred around 6am in Elkridge, MD. As a result of that fatal car-truck crash, the three occupants of the passenger vehicle died. Killed were the 20-year-old driver of the Chevy sedan, as well as two brothers, 25- and 31-years-old; all of the deceased occupants were from the Hyattsville, Maryland, area.
3 Killed In Route 1 Crash; Police Say Car Was Speeding When It Hit Tractor Trailer, CBSLocal.com, October 25, 2012