Not just anyone can drive a commercial vehicle like a semi-truck. Those aspiring to professional driving careers need to take extra courses to learn how to safely operate 18-wheelers and similar commercial vehicles. They will then need to apply for a commercial driver’s license.
They will have to maintain their eligibility for a commercial license and are subject to very strict rules. Those higher standards and extra training exist in part because of how dangerous commercial vehicles can be. For example, there are certain kinds of collisions that frequently involve semi-trucks and similar large vehicles.
Underride collisions occur specifically because of how big a semi-truck is. When another vehicle hits the back or sides of a semi-truck’s trailer, the vehicle can end up passing under the truck, which can cause severe damage to the vehicle and its occupants. Companies can help limit such crashes by investing in better vehicle accessories. There are rear underride guards installed on all commercial trailers under the law, but side underride guards are not mandatory in many cases. Truck drivers need to be aware of other vehicles near them to reduce the risk of such crashes occurring.
If there’s one type of wreck that people strongly associate with commercial vehicles, it would be a jackknife collision. The term comes from how a commercial truck looks during such incidents. Due to slick road conditions or poor control of the vehicle, the driver will lose control of the vehicle because the trailer starts moving in a different direction than the cab of the truck. Jackknife collisions can potentially shut down entire streets and could involve multiple other vehicles, as the truck may move erratically until it finally comes to a stop.
Sometimes, a jackknife incident worsens because of a heavy or unbalanced trailer. Other times, the vehicle rolls over without jackknifing first. Going around corners and curves are often precipitating events for rollover collisions, and a commercial truck that rolls over could strike multiple other vehicles and block multiple lanes of traffic.
Other motorists won’t be able to prevent a commercial driver from making a mistake, but they can give bigger vehicles a bit more space for their own protection. Learning more about the different types of commercial crashes that occur can help people stay safer in traffic and/or more appropriately respond when affected by a semi-truck wreck.