Davis Law Group has more than 20 years of experience representing seriously injured victims, and the families of those fatally injured in commercial truck accidents in Washington State. In fact, our firm has represented the victims of Washington's most famous trucking accident in which a semi-truck crash caused the collapse of the Skagit River Bridge.
Semi-truck accidents happen quite frequently in Washington state. Truck drivers are often required to deliver their cargo on a very strict schedule which can result in long hours on the road with little or no sleep.
Exhausted or distracted truck drivers often cause major accidents. Poorly maintained trucks and those with unsecured loads are also causes of trucking accidents. Because semi trucks can weigh anywhere from 10,000 to 80,000 pounds, if one of these big rigs crashes into a passenger vehicle the accident victims may suffer serious or fatal injuries.
Tanker Truck Accidents Spills: Danger On The Highway
When a tanker truck hauling toxic and or flammable chemicals is involved in an accident which is so severe that it causes
the truck to overturn and its cargo to spill out onto the highway and surrounding landscape, the risk of injury to the community at large increases dramatically.
Toxic Chemicals on Washington State Roadways & Highways
- Gases (flammable, nonflammable, inhalation hazard/poison, or oxygen)
- Liquids that burn (flammable and combustible liquids, based on their flashpoint)
- Flammable Solids, Spontaneously Combustible, or Dangerous when wet materials
- Oxidizers and Organic Peroxides
- Poison/Toxic Solids and Liquids, Infectious Materials
- Radioactive Chemicals
- Corrosives (acids and bases)
Dangers of Chemical Truck Accidents
- Explosions caused by ignighted flammable liquids.
- Toxic chemical exposure to humans and animals causing burns, injuries to eyes and lungs, and neurological damage.
- Contamination of local ground water.
These types of accidents are far more common than is generally known.
Collisions Caused by Over-Height Vehicles & Low Clearance
There are a often number of different terms used to describe an event in which an over-height commercial trucking vehicle strikes low-clearance bridge, tunnel or overpass. Very often states, such as Washington State, lump these kinds of collisions into a category called “fixed-object crashes” or stationary roadside object crashes” which also include items such as utility poles and guardrails.
It is therefore difficult to get an accurate measure of the size of the problem. These types of accidents present a danger to other drivers on the road that may get hit by falling objects; may rear-end the truck when it comes to a sudden stop after striking an overpass; or when the roadway becomes littered with debris.
- Over-height Vehicle Accident
- Inadequate Vertical Clearance Accidents
- Low Clearance Accidents
- Bridge Impacts
- Bridge Strikes
- Collision With Overhead Structure
- Stationary Object Strikes
- Stationary Object Hits
Over-Height or Wide Load Trucking Accident Statistics
A 2004 research study reported that 62% of states that participated in the study indicated that they consider over-height collisions to be a significant problem. Washington State reported that overheight collisions were not a problem. Source: Fu, C. C. and G. L. Chang, “Study of Overheight Vehicle collisions with Highway Bridges,”Transportation Research Record,1865, 80-88, 2004.
In a survey conducted for a similar 2012 study Washington State officials responded that bridge strikes were a serious problem reporting a total of 84 reported bridge strikes during 2005 to 2008.* *Source: A.K. Agrawal, X. Xu, and Z. Chen, Bridge-Vehicle Impact Assessment. Final Report to the New York State Department of Transportation, January 2012.
Research estimates that nearly one-third of the nation’s 600,000 highway bridges are currently in need of repair or replacements, making applications for innovative bridge concepts and construction methods vital to both traffic safety and cost-effective maintenance. Because of this pressure issue, researchers are addressing a growing need for over-height impact protection and detection systems.*
*Source: Over-height Vehicle Collision Protection and Detection System for Cold Region Highway Bridges, University of Alaska Transportation Center.
Use of GPS Navigation Systems in Trucking & Commercial Transport
There is a dangerous practice in the commercial transportation industry that is causing an increase in accidents involving large trucks. Many small transportation companies and independent truckers are purchasing consumer GPS systems rather than GPS systems created specifically for truckers. All GPS systems can help define the quickest route between two locations. But systems designed specifically for commercial use go one step further by factoring the height, width, and weight of the load and determine the safest route--avoiding low-clearance overpasses, narrow roads, and the weight restrictions of bridges.
The problem is so wide-spread that in 2013 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) began issuing official recommendations to members of the commercial trucking industry on the proper uses of Global Positioning System (GPS) devices and incorporate GPS training into new entry-level certification programs for commercial motor vehicle operators.
According to ABI Research, global shipments of commercial GPS navigation systems, such as those used in large trucks, will climb from 3 million in 2010 to 7.5 million by 2015.
In a survey in which common carriers 33% described situations in which they believed that GPS navigation systems errors contributed to crashes. Of those 34% reported that they had been navigated to roads with inadequate bridge/overpass clearance.*
*Source: Accessing The Use of Navigation Systems in the Trucking Industry April 2013. American Transportation Research Institute
Washington State Semi Truck Accident & Trucking Collision Statistics
There are over 500,000 truck accidents in the United States every year. A large number of semi truck accidents result in fatalities, primarily because of the difference in size between semi trucks and standard motor vehicles.
Traffic safety experts estimate that approximately 5,000 people are tragically killed in trucking accidents annually. Ninety-eight percent of the time, the passengers or driver in the other vehicle is killed as opposed to driver or passengers in the truck.
According to FARS and MCMIS's April 25,2014 data snapshot, the number of trucks involved in Washington State motor vehicle crashes has been as follows:
- 2008 - 1,428
- 2009 - 1,159
- 2010 - 1,370
- 2011 - 1,614
Jackknife Tractor Trailer Accidents
Jackknife big rig crashes are often caused by the sudden application of the brakes in a tractor-trailer. Jackknife accidents are also commonly caused by downshifting, accelerating on a a low friction surface, and entering a curve too quickly.
Causes of Semi Truck & Tractor Trailer Truck Accidents
There are many causes for semi truck accidents but some of the most common causes are:
- Driver Fatigue
- Substance Abuse
- Failure to adhere to the rules of the road
- Failure to properly maintain trucks
- Improperly loaded trucks or cargo shifting / Illegal, over-sized loads
- Under-inflated tires
- Over-height trucks attempting to pass under lo overpasses or bridges
- Pilot/Escort Vehicle Operator (P/EVO) error
- Trucks following other traffic too closely