Facts About 18-Wheelers and Accidents in California

Many inexperienced drivers and even veteran drivers are intimidated by the size, weight, and speed of 18-wheelers. When they pass at full speed, they create a roar with air currents that push and pull cars, especially tiny ones, like paper in the wind. Drivers who spend much time on U.S. interstates and highways understand how dangerous 18-wheelers can be. Inattentive or irresponsible drivers account for many accidents where sudden swerves and stops, brake lockups, jack-knifes, 100-foot skidmarks, and rollovers occur.

Following are some facts about 18-wheelers. After reading them, you’ll better understand how accidents involving 18-wheelers and other large trucks often lead to intense pain and suffering.

If injured in an 18-wheeler accident, contact a Los Angeles truck accident attorney for advice.

Legal Weight, Standard Height, width, and Length

A legally operated 18-wheeler, also known as semi-trailer, big rig, tractor-trailer, truck and trailer, and semi, should weigh no more than 80,000 pounds fully loaded. Keep in mind that the average passenger vehicle weighs approximately 5,000 pounds and is no match for the size and weight of an 80,000-pound semi.

The semi cab, the vehicle that hauls the trailers, often measures between 245 and 265 inches in length between the center of the front and rear axles. The standard 18-wheeler (cab and trailer) height is approximately 13’ 6”, width is 102 inches, and between 70 and 80 feet long.

Axles, Tandem, and Fifth-Wheel

Semis are complicated vehicles with many components and moving parts. All it takes is for one of those parts to fail, and the results can be disastrous. If injured in a truck, contact truck accident attorneys in Los Angeles for advice.

  • AxlesAn 18-wheeler consists of a cab and one trailer with five axles and 18 tires. Vehicles that size are often difficult to handle, so you can understand how pulling additional trailers make steering, driving, and stopping more complicated.
  • TandemIs defined as one in front of the other. Tandem tires provide stability and weight distribution for the 18-wheeler. If one tire fails, the adjacent tires allow the driver to continue on the road until the driver can replace the damaged tire.
  • Fifth-Wheel A semi cab fifth-wheel is a large metal plate, a coupling device, located above the rear wheels. It couples and secures a trailer to the truck cab.

Truck Gears

Many 18-wheel trucks have ten forward and two reverse gears that allow them to move smoothly through traffic. Some newer, better-equipped vehicles have as many as 18 forward speeds, which help save gas, and aid in acceleration on up-hill grades and deceleration on down-hill grades. Gear downs are crucial when cab and trailer brakes fail, and drivers need to slow their vehicles rapidly to prevent accidents.

Distance to Stop an 18-Wheel Semi?

A fully-loaded 18-wheel semi can require more than 200 yards to stop at highway speeds on level ground. Further, it can take about 40% longer to stop a semi than the average 5,000-pound passenger car. Under adverse road and driving conditions, it may be even longer. An experienced truck accident lawyer in Los Angeles knows the importance of stopping 18-wheeled semis before people are injured.

Bobtailing, Jack-knifing, and Rollovers

Semi-truck drivers experience forces on their vehicles of which passenger vehicle drivers are seldom aware.

  • BobtailingWhen a semi operator is driving without a trailer attached, it is called bobtailing. Why is that important? Semi-trucks, when not connected to trailers, can be unstable on the road. The sheer weight and size of the semi-truck and trailer(s) make them more stable. Many factors, such as bad weather, can make an unattached semi-truck even more unstable.
  • Jack-KnifingJack-knifing can occur when a driver slams on his brakes and the trailer(s), while still attached to the truck, turn sideways and move toward the semi cab. Often, the side of the trailer will hit the backside of the cab so hard it even turns it sideways.
  • RolloverDue to the sheer size, weight, and high center of gravity, 18-wheel trucks are prone to rollovers, especially during sharp turns or loss of driver control during maneuvering. Semi-truck rollover accidents are hazardous to other drivers and pedestrians, as well as their drivers.

Tire Blowouts

Semi-truck tire blowouts often lead to severe accidents and even fatalities. Semi-truck tires are large, heavy, and often come off with the rim attached. Semi-truck tires weigh around 110-pounds, tire rims weigh around 70 pounds, with both weighing approximately 180 pounds. Imagine one or both of them coming off of an 18-wheeler and heading toward you at highway speeds. You can either steer clear, slow down, or be hit by one. Sometimes you don’t have any choice, and an accident occurs.

Truck accident attorneys in Los Angeles, like M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers, are experienced in tire blowouts and other 18-wheeler accident claims.

Who May Be Responsible for an 18-Wheeler Accident in California?

California law states that anyone who negligently contributes to an accident may be held liable for that negligence. Several different parties can be held responsible for their negligent acts. Some examples include:

  • Truck drivers
  • Trucking companies
  • Maintenance and repair companies
  • Semi-truck parts distributors (sellers) and manufacturers
  • Drivers of other vehicles
  • Local and state municipalities
  • Pedestrians

Contacting a Los Angeles Truck Accident Attorney

If you or a family member are injured in an 18-wheeler truck accident, call an experienced truck accident lawyer in Los Angeles. You want a lawyer who can help you collect the compensation you deserve.

M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers

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