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Commercial trucks – also referred to as heavy trucks, tractor trailers, big rigs, semis and 18-wheelers – are a vital part of the U.S. economy, transporting goods across the nation’s highway system. When these enormous trucks share Pennsylvania’s roads with millions of smaller vehicles, disaster can occur.

The legal weight limit (without oversize or overweight permits) for commercial trucks is 80,000 pounds, which is more than 16 times heavier than an average passenger vehicle. The lengths of commercial trucks vary widely, but with an average haul, trucks can reach lengths over 70 feet. In sharp contrast, an average family minivan measures roughly 16 feet long and weighs less than 5,000 pounds.

Car accidents occur often and can sometimes lead to major injury or death. When a car and a commercial truck collide, however, the results are almost always catastrophic. Besides dwarfing the average vehicle, commercial trucks are also difficult to maneuver. When loaded with freight, commercial trucks take somewhere between 20 to 40 percent longer to stop than a passenger vehicle.

When big rigs are involved in accidents, the results are often deadly.

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Pennsylvania Truck Crash Statistics

Pennsylvania has the sixth highest state population in the country at 12,742,866 (according to 2011 U.S. census). Accordingly, Pennsylvania also had the sixth most traffic related deaths in the country in 2010, behind California, Texas, Florida, New York and Georgia.

There were 5,846 truck accidents in the state of Pennsylvania in 2010, 145 of which were fatal. In 2011, there were 6,346 truck accidents in the state, which resulted in 145 deaths. This represents a 7.9 percent rise in the amount of truck crashes in the state, a dangerous trend.

Data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows that most of the fatalities in truck accidents, an alarming 97 percent, are people in passenger vehicles.

Pennsylvania Truck Safety

The trucking industry is the fourth largest employer in Pennsylvania, accounting for roughly 418,260 employees, according to the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association. Trucks transport over 1.2 million tons of freight in and out of the state every business day. In 2000, trucks traveled 12.1 billion road miles in Pennsylvania, accounting for 12 percent of all vehicle miles.

Pennsylvania is a widely traveled state with a lot of cars and trucks sharing the roads. Any highway in the U.S has the potential to be quite dangerous for a motorist, but what many people don’t realize is that truckers themselves consider Pennsylvania’s roads to be some of most dangerous in the country.

According to multiple Highway Report Card surveys conducted by trucking trade journal Overdrive, Pennsylvania has some of the worst roads in America. Truckers specifically site the conditions on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Interstate 78 and Interstate 80 as being particularly bad.

To make matters worse, the city of Philadelphia in southeastern Pennsylvania has two of the nation’s most dangerous intersections, according to a study.  Philadelphia’s worst intersections are Red Lion Road and Roosevelt Boulevard and also Grant Avenue and Roosevelt Boulevard.

Causes of Pennsylvania Big Rig Accidents

Large trucks end up in accidents due to a variety of reasons. Occasionally reckless driving is the cause of an accident. Other times negligence on the part of a trucking company and a truck driver can lead to fatal consequences. The following are common causes of truck accidents:

  1. Driver Fatigue
  2. Too Many Hours Behind the Wheel
  3. Speeding
  4. Tailgating (Aggressive Driving)
  5. Mobile Phone Use While Driving
  6. Substance Abuse (Alcohol or Drugs)
  7. Failure to Check Brakes or Tires

If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a Pennsylvania truck accident, you need experienced representation. Victims of truck crashes may be entitled to compensation, including medical costs, lost wages and pain and suffering. The Pennsylvania truck accident attorneys at Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman will represent your best interests and help you through this difficult time.

Taking on a trucking company in court can be an arduous campaign. Some cases involve multiple jurisdictions and a wide range of complex legal issues. To ensure that you have the best chance of receiving the compensation you deserve, choose a truck accident lawyer with experience, compassion and dedication.

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