When trucks and cars collide: Why is the damage so much worse?

A local truck crash is getting national attention — and for good reason. The crash is in the spotlight due to the shocking images that capture a massive truck as it dangles off the side of the George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge that connects Louisville, Kentucky to Indiana. Inside, a driver waits hoping for rescue. She is left waiting for forty minutes while rescue teams gather to put together a rope system to reach her and bring her to safety.

Thankfully, this crash has a relatively happy ending. The driver is rescued, the crew that responded was not injured, and everyone has a good story to tell.

Unfortunately, this type of happy ending is rare when it comes to crashes involving large commercial trucks.

Why are truck accidents so much more catastrophic than a typical car accident?

When a commercial truck collides with a smaller vehicle, the outcome is often significantly more catastrophic when compared to a collision involving two passenger vehicles due to simple physics. Two principles that explain the reason for the severity:

  • Momentum and energy increase with the mass and speed of the vehicle, and
  • A commercial truck has greater momentum and energy due to its larger mass. This makes the impact even more forceful compared to a traditional accident.

The average commercial truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded, while an average passenger vehicle weighs approximately 3,000 pounds. This weight difference leads to severe damage to the passenger vehicle and increased risk of serious injury or fatality to occupants of the smaller vehicle.

Who is responsible for these tragic crashes?

Truck operators and companies must adhere to strict regulations to prevent such catastrophic events. If they do not, anyone injured in a resulting accident may be able to build a case against the driver and/or company and hold them financially responsible for the crash.

Accidents involving commercial trucks are often complex legal matters because of the severity of damages and injuries. Victims of these accidents may be able to seek compensation for medical expenses and loss of income.


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