One of the most common ways consumer goods such as food, furniture, and even cars and gasoline are moved around the country is via semi-trucks. There are millions of semi-trucks on America’s roads, and more than 400,000 registered in California alone. All told, long-haul trucking in America is a $700 billion industry and growing. 

With that many commercial trucks moving that much freight, it might be wise to know a little more about big rigs we share the road with. For instance, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), as recently as 2018, there were hundreds of thousands of accidents involving semi-trucks which resulted in the death of more than 4,000 individuals.

There are also thousands more who are injured each year in accidents involving semi-trucks. The reason so many accidents, injuries, and deaths are tied to semi-trucks has to do with how much they weigh and how long it takes a semi-truck to stop.

How Much do Semi-Trucks Weigh?

There are many variables that determine the weight of a semi-truck. Legally, the maximum a semi-truck can weigh, including the engine, tractor, and freight is 80,000 pounds. That equals 40 tons and is almost twenty times heavier than the average car.

There are also some instances in which a semi-truck could weigh even more. For oversized loads, special permits can be requested. However, because authorities don’t want semi-trucks damaging roads and bridges, it is rare for a semi-truck to weigh more than 80,000 pounds.

Because of their added weight, it takes semi-trucks much longer to stop than it takes most cars. In some cases, it can take a semi-truck 40 percent longer to stop than it takes a car to stop. 

Tips for Avoiding Accidents with Semi-Trucks

Because it takes semi-trucks longer to brake and because accidents involving semi-trucks can be especially dangerous, it is wise to exercise extreme caution when sharing the road with a big rig. Tips for avoiding an accident include:

  • Following the semi-truck at a safe distance. You will want to stay farther back from a semi-truck than you do from the average car.
  • Staying out of the semi-truck’s blind spot. A truck might have to make an adjustment quickly and if they don’t see you on their side, might even run into you.
  • Don’t cut in front of a semi-truck too closely. While doing so might lead to you being involved in the accident, it could cause the semi-truck to brake quickly and collide with other vehicles. 

With weights as high as 80,000 pounds, the last thing you want to do is collide with a semi-truck. Because your car is smaller and weighs less, you will lose that confrontation every time. By driving defensively and cautiously you can keep yourself and others on the road safe from an all too common accident with a semi-truck.

What to do if You Are in An Accident with a Semi-Truck

As noted above, accidents involving semi-trucks can be quite common. If you are in an accident with a semi-truck, the first thing you need to do is get to safety. You should also call for help and seek medical attention if necessary. 

And while it might be hard to remain calm, it is important that you refrain from admitting fault or doing anything other than objectively answering questions from police. 

Next, you should talk to a qualified personal injury lawyer who specializes in truck accident cases. A good personal injury lawyer will know what to look for in each case to determine who was at fault and to what extent. They will know about the rules and regulations related to logs, the weight of the truck, and how many hours a semi-truck driver can legally operate their rig. 

If the driver was in violation of any standard procedures or didn’t properly document any aspect of their current route, they could be liable for the accident. Your lawyer will do a thorough investigation and determine how much you could be due in damages.

Finally, it is important you begin this process as early as possible as it will give your lawyer the chance to put together your case before the statute of limitations runs out or before the insurance company for the trucking company tries to make their case for denying liability. With the help of a good personal injury lawyer, you will have a far greater chance of collecting the money you deserve.