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What Are the Most Dangerous Types of Collisions Between a Passenger Car and a Truck?

Many motorists get nervous driving on a highway near a large commercial truck, with good reason. When a tractor-trailer collides with a passenger car, there’s little question about which vehicle will sustain greater damage. While commercial trucks are involved in fewer accidents than passenger vehicles, the accidents involving trucks are often catastrophic. So, is there a particularly dangerous accident scenario that motorists need to fear? Here’s what data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration tells us through crash statistics for 2015.

The most frequent and deadliest type of accident involved a large truck striking a car in something other than a head-on or rear-end collision. These included sideswipe collisions, when a truck attempted to change lanes, and T-bone collisions, when a truck hit the broadside of a car. FMCSA data shows that these types of crashes were fatal 717 times in 2015 and represented 36 percent of all fatal truck crashes nationwide.

The next most dangerous scenario involved a passenger car striking a truck in something other than a head-on or rear-end collision. In 2015, such crashes caused 344 deaths, or 17.3 percent of truck crash fatalities. Not far behind is a crash occurrence where a passenger car crossed the median to hit a truck head-on. These types of crashes caused 343 deaths, or 17.2 percent of truck crash fatalities.

Next is a crash where a passenger car rear-ends a truck. This scenario accounted for 335 deaths, or 16.8 percent of fatalities. By contrast, large trucks rear-ending passenger cars caused only 86 deaths, or 4.3 percent of truck accident fatalities, and large trucks crossing the median to cause a head-on collision with a passenger car resulted in only 34 deaths, or 1.7 percent of fatalities.

What lessons might we draw from this data? Here are a few thoughts:

  • The most dangerous occurrence is when a truck sideswipes a car, which often happens because the trucker fails to realize that the car is traveling in the truck driver’s blind spot.
  • Passenger cars rear-end commercial trucks almost four times as often as trucks rear-end passenger cars. Surprisingly, the drivers and passengers of these vehicles can often, with proper representation, obtain an award of damages. This usually happens either because the trucker caused or contributed to the accident, for example by failing to use flashers while traveling below a certain speed, as required by the federal safety regulations, or because the injuries were made more severe by a defect in the truck’s design or maintenance.

If you’ve been injured in a truck accident in West Virginia, consult an experienced personal injury attorney at Kaufman & McPherson, PLLC.