Why Speeding Is a Leading Cause of Truck Crash Fatalities
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) points to rising speed limits as a critical factor in the increase in fatal truck accidents. Since 1995, states first increased highway speed limits from 55 to 65 mph, and then to 70 mph. Since January 1, 2014, over 80 percent of Illinois’ interstate highways have had a 70 mph speed limit. Speeds up to 80 mph are allowed on rural interstates in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming, while states like Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and nine others have a 75 mph cut-off.
When speeding, truck drivers have little room for error. A fully loaded semi traveling at 55 mph will take about 300 feet to stop, but at 65 mph, tractor-trailer trucks can take 525 feet to stop. Tailgating, driver fatigue, or even a minor distraction can lead to a collision with tragic consequences.
Why High-Speed Truck Accidents Cause More Severe Injuries
The faster a car or truck is going, the greater the force of the crash. In addition, the energy of the crash increases exponentially relative to the speed. Imagine backing into a concrete post at 25 mph. It would not kill you, but your bumper would take a beating. Now imagine this crash at even higher speeds:
- If you increase your speed to 35 mph, the force of the crash doubles.
- If you double your speed from 25 mph to 50 mph, the crash energy will be FOUR times greater.
- If you triple your speed from 25 mph to 75 mph, the force of the crash will be NINE times greater.
You may not think that crashing at 40 mph is that bad. But consider this: government crash tests evaluate passenger safety at crash speeds around 30 to 35 mph, which is defined as producing a “severe impact.”
Now imagine what happens at 60 mph. In these cases, seat belts and airbags are insufficient to prevent injuries. The structure of a passenger vehicle simply cannot withstand the force of such a crash, which means passengers can be crushed.
Here is another way to imagine the impact of a highway-speed crash: imagine driving your car off the roof of a 12-story building and hitting the ground. That is equivalent to a highway collision at 65 mph.
Why Speed Matters in a Truck Accident Lawsuit
Proving the speed at which each vehicle was traveling in a catastrophic car or truck crash is a critical piece of evidence in a personal injury lawsuit. Research has shown that your chance of being seriously hurt in a car accident increases in proportion to every 1 percent increase in speed. To put that into perspective, if you drive 75 mph instead of 65 mph, that is a 15% increase, and your chance of being seriously injured in an accident rises accordingly. The chance of an accident is even higher if you are driving 80 mph when the surrounding traffic is moving at 70 mph.
Contact a Cook County Commercial Truck Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a collision involving a commercial truck, talk to an experienced Orland Park truck accident attorney. Call the Orland Park office of Schwartz Injury Law at 708-226-9000 or call our Joliet office at 815-723-7300 to schedule a free consultation.