As we all know, size isn’t everything. That being said, in the context of automobile accidents, size is an undeniably important factor. When a much larger, much heavier vehicle crashes into a smaller, lighter vehicle, it doesn’t take a physicist to understand the result. The smaller, lighter vehicle will almost always sustain substantially worse damage, as will the occupants of the smaller, lighter vehicle.
A good illustration of this rule is when a tractor-trailer collides with a passenger vehicle. The two vehicles are mismatched in every way: height, length and weight. This dramatic imbalance means that a crash involving a semi might result in minor injuries to the truck driver, while those in the passenger vehicle suffer serious harm or, possibly even death.
A recent accident in Hattiesburg, Mississippi thankfully avoided tragedy, but did alarmingly demonstrate the potential harm that can occur when a tractor-trailer tangles with a much smaller car. According to police, three people were injured after an 18-wheeler collided with their car.
The crash happened in a northbound lane of I-59, near mile marker 62. Authorities say that the tractor-trailer struck the car as the two were nearing a bridge where Highway 11 intersects the interstate. The truck then slid along the bridge and jackknifed across the median. Three of those inside the much smaller sedan suffered serious injuries. The local hospital said that one of the passengers was in critical condition while the other two were in serious condition. In fact, the accident was so severe that the stretch of guardrail around the accident site was destroyed and the bridge also sustained damage.
If a bridge is damaged in a crash, it’s no wonder that a passenger vehicle doesn’t stand a chance when up against a fast moving semi. This illustrates just how dangerous tractor-trailers can be to those driving in passenger vehicles. To get a better sense of how serious the mismatch is, and thus why the harm done is so uneven, let’s talk about weight for a moment.
A fully loaded tractor-trailer comes in at 80,000 pounds. Massive. A typical passenger vehicle, not a small car, but a full-sized sedan, weighs 4,000 pounds. That means that the tractor-trailer weights approximately 20 times what the passenger vehicle weights. Add to this the fact that trucks are also much taller, with greater ground clearance, than passenger vehicles. This results in smaller vehicles underriding trucks in crashes, dramatically increasing the risk of serious harm. It’s for this reason that large trucks, which only account for 2 percent of all vehicles involved in accidents, account for 7 percent of all fatal accidents.
If you have been injured in a Mississippi car, motorcycle or tractor-trailer accident and think you may have a personal injury claim, please contact the Mississippi personal injury attorneys at Kilpatrick & Philley at(601) 856-7800.