The enormous size and weight of tractor trailers makes them very imposing vehicles to drive alongside on the highway. These same factors also make the truck driver’s job more complicated as he has to account for the size of his truck in every maneuver he makes in order to avoid a tractor trailer wreck.
A tractor trailer’s average length is between 70 and 80 feet long. As you can imagine, this makes every turn a challenge. Tractor trailers don’t have nearly the same turning radius as a passenger car and drivers must calculate whether the road they are on is wide enough to make a safe turn. It takes an experienced driver to make these turns safely, but accidents do still happen. That is why you see labels on the back of trailers warning about wide turns. Many tractor trailer accidents have occurred as a result of a passenger car moving too close to a tractor trailer as it was trying to make a turn.
The weight of a tractor trailer also contributes to injury accidents as heavier trucks are harder to stop and cause more damage when an accident occurs. The legal limit for a truck’s weight is 80,000 lbs. The average car only weighs about 5,000 lbs. To help control this extra weight, tractor trailers have been fitted with numerous powerful braking systems, but it still takes 40% longer to stop a tractor trailer as it does a passenger car traveling at the same speed.
If the driver doesn’t know how to turn properly or is forced to brake hard, he may also force his tractor trailer into a jackknife. If the cab turns at a 45 degree angle in relation to the trailer then a jackknife is almost unavoidable as the weight of the trailer will push forward and lock the two halves in a folded position similar to an open pocket knife, hence the term jackknife.
With all these complicating factors, it takes an experienced driver and a trucking company devoted to safety to avoid potentially fatal 18 wheeler crashes. Unfortunately, not all companies follow federal guidelines and some operate their vehicles with dangerous negligence. These companies must be held accountable to make the roads safer for everyone. If you or a loved one has been involved in a tractor trailer accident, call a Missouri truck accident lawyer to learn your rights and have him look over your case.