As a seemingly permanent fixture of Pennsylvania interstates, tractor-trailers pose a constant risk to motorists. Accidents involving 18-wheelers and other large vehicles can cause severe personal injury to victims. In many cases, truck accidents lead to death.

Data from 2015 found that nearly 4,000 people died in accidents in the United States that involved tractor-trailers. When a fatal accident involved a smaller passenger vehicle and a tractor-trailer, 97 percent of deaths involved occupants of the motor vehicle. This includes data for accidents in which the truck driver, passenger vehicle driver or both were at fault.

Unfortunately, many truck drivers are chronically fatigued. Driving for just eight hours doubles the likelihood of a truck driver to cause an accident, and many drive up to and past the federally-allowed 11 hours. One study found that when truck drivers reported violating this regulation, they were also likely to report that they had fallen asleep while driving during that same period. A separate study found that hours-of-service violations directly increased the likelihood that a driver will cause an accident. Although fatigue is a known contributing factor to tractor-trailer accidents, researchers are still unclear just how large a role it plays.

Many truck drivers do not comply with federal service hour regulations, and even those who do still experience an increased probability of causing a serious accident. Since these vehicles are incredibly heavy and travel at high rates of speed, they are much more likely to cause serious injury to occupants of passenger vehicles. Victims can address the tremendous physical, financial and emotional costs associated with such accidents through a carefully pursued personal injury claim. When a victim is killed because of a truck accident, surviving Pennsylvania family members can achieve similar compensation via the actions of a wrongful death suit.

Source: iihs.org, “Large trucks“, Accessed on Nov. 20, 2017