A recent crash in Waco, Texas is shedding light on the increasing issue of deadly 18-wheeler crashes in the state. Arturo Gonzalez-Medina, age 47, was killed around 6 a.m. when his car was struck by an 18-wheeler. His car was stopped in the center lane of IH-35 near mile marker 325 due to an earlier crash. While no other injuries were reported, the 18-wheeler overturned after hitting Gonzalez-Medina’s car.

Why Are 18-Wheelers Dangerous?

18-wheelers are large trucks that are used to carry goods across the country. They are also commonly known as semi-trucks, big rigs, and tractor-trailers. Their engines are 6 times larger than cars and usually have 400-600 horsepower. This is compared to the 100-200 horsepower that an average car engine has. They are meant to drive non-stop and for long-distances. In theory, they could be driven from one side of the country to the other with the driver only needing to stop for gas or an occasional oil change.

A semi-truck is between 70 and 80 feet long. Their weight is also measured and has legal limits depending on the cargo and type of truck. In some cases, they can weigh over 80,000 pounds. It is possible for a truck to carry more weight than allowed if they get permits and label themselves as oversized. States have weigh-stations designed to make sure trucks are in compliance with their appropriate weight limits.

Trucks need both a longer time to break and more space to turn due to their large size and weight. The time needed for a truck to break quickly is 40% greater than a car. This can be even higher if the truck is going down a steep incline or is traveling at a fast speed. They also have an average turning radius of 55 ft.

The sheer size of the 18-wheelers makes them dangerous because they need more time to break and react. They cannot maneuver like smaller vehicles when it comes to changing lanes and turning. Their height and size also give them more blind spots where they may not be able to see all the other drivers around them. They are also extremely heavy which makes any truck accident in Waco very likely to cause injury or death.

18-Wheeler Crash Statistics

In 2018, over 4,100 people died from large 18-truck crashes. Of these fatalities, 16% were the truck drivers or occupants of the truck. 15% were pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists. The largest number of deaths, 67%, were occupants and drivers of other cars and vehicles.

The numbers vary even more when only occupants, not drivers of the vehicles, are compared. 96% of all occupant deaths in 18-wheeler accidents are those that are passengers in a car or other small vehicle. Only 4% are occupants of the 18-wheeler.

The trend of injuries and deaths due to 18-wheeler accidents is growing. Fatal crash data started being collected in 1975. Since then, the number of fatalities related to 18-wheeler crashes had increased by 51% in the year 2009. While the numbers did decrease a bit after this peak, they have steadily been rising again.

18-wheeler crashes are most likely to occur on interstates, freeways, and other major roads. They are less likely to occur on side roads or rural roads. The time they happen the most is between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. These are usually working hours when there are more drivers on the roads. This also explains why the majority of 18-wheeler related injuries and deaths take place on weekdays, where only 15% occur on weekends.

How Can You Prevent Being In A Crash With An 18-wheeler?

There are several actions you can take to help minimize your risk of getting into a car accident involving an 18-wheeler. Drive safely and obey all traffic laws. Remember how large trucks are and do not cut them off or speed around them. Driving a large vehicle makes it hard to navigate quick changes like these. Also, try not to drive distracted or fatigued. You want to make sure you are able to concentrate on the road and other drivers around you to be as safe as possible.

After the most recent 18-wheeler crash, the Texas Department of Public Safety reminded everyone of the importance of moving your vehicle to the side of the road after a car accident. Move your car to the side of the road to get out of traffic and call emergency services if there are no injuries. If possible, encourage other drivers at the accident scene to also move to the side for safety.