4 Things You Didn’t Know About Semi Trucks
June 2, 2022 | Sagi Shaked | Truck Accidents
Semi-trucks are familiar fixtures on Miami highways, transporting goods from the ports across the country. Although they may seem like gentle giants, semi-trucks can cause significant damage in a vehicle collision.
Aside from a few myths in popular movies like Smokey and the Bandit, many people don’t know much about tractor-trailers. Learning more about commercial trucks and the trucking industry can help you drive more defensively and stay safer on the road.
1. Where Does the Term “Semi-Truck” Come from?
The name “semi-truck” comes from the cab’s ability to haul semi-trailers. A semi-trailer is a trailer that cannot move on its own but instead is attached to the truck cab designed for hauling these trailers.
Tractor-trailer, 18-wheeler, semi, and “big rig” are other names for these kinds of trucks. Semi-trucks generally just haul one trailer, although some cabs are powerful enough to pull two connected trailers.
2. It’s a Lot Harder to Drive a Semi-Truck than a Passenger Car
Semi-truck drivers must have a valid Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), which requires additional training and driver education. Drivers must undergo a professional training program and pass specific written and driving tests to earn their CDL.
Additionally, drivers hauling certain kinds of cargo, like hazardous materials, chemicals, or gasoline, must complete further testing and training.
Besides the additional training requirements, the trucks themselves are complicated to maneuver. A fully loaded semi weighs about 80,000 pounds, easily ten times that of a passenger car or SUV.
The truck’s weight gives it more inertia, which means it needs a longer distance to stop. Sudden stops can be dangerous and easily cause a collision. The center of gravity in a semi-truck is higher, too, making the vehicle unwieldy.
3. There Is a Truck Driver Shortage
Although long-haul trucking can be a lucrative career, driver turnover is quite high. In fact, the U.S. Department of Transportation notes that turnover rates in the industry are 90% for commercial truckers and 72% for smaller trucking companies. Long hours and extended time away from home are the two main reasons drivers quit.
This trucker shortage means that many of the drivers you pass each day are likely to be relatively new or inexperienced. In addition, many companies may be trying to compensate for the driver shortage by having more demanding schedules, leaving drivers tired and stressed. These factors can make the chances of an accident higher.
4. Truckers Suffer from Driver Fatigue
New, stressed, and tired truckers experience high rates of driver fatigue. In fact, 40% of 2018’s 5,250 fatal workplace accidents were transportation-related, and semi-truck drivers made up 831 of those deaths.
The dangers of operating the truck, which takes more concentration and skill than driving a passenger car, and driver fatigue and stress make serious accidents more likely.
Truckers are limited to a certain number of hours per day by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The agency has strict regulations that truckers and carriers must comply with, such as mandatory rest periods, to make long-haul trucking safer.
Drivers are required to log their driving and resting hours. Failure to do so may result in the driver losing their CDL.
Remain Diligent When Sharing the Road with Semi-Trucks
Learning more about the trucking industry and the drivers behind the wheel of semi-trucks can help you be more aware of the challenges that these drivers face and how to drive more defensively when near these trucks.
If you’ve been involved in a truck accident, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer for help getting the compensation you need.