Big Rig Accidents in Maine
Big rigs are also known in various parts of North America as semis, large trucks, eighteen wheelers, tractor-trailers or semi-tractor trailers. According to the definition of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), these trucks must have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of over 10,000 pounds to be classified as large trucks.
The really heavy trucks have a GVWR in excess of 26,000 pounds. When analyzing national crash data from 2015, the NHTSA found that 86 percent of truck crashes involved these heavy trucks.
Maine’s Accident Statistics
The following statistics for Maine over a ten-year period from 2006 to 2015 were drawn from data contained in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), which is administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):
|Year||Number of Large Truck Crashes||Fatalities Truck Occupants||Fatalities Other Vehicle Occupants||Fatalities Non-occupants||Total Fatalities|
The number of large trucks involved in crashes decreased by over 50% from a high of 21 in 2009 to ten in 2015. FARS started recording details of fatalities in these crashes from 2013.
Total fatalities dropped from 18 in 2013 to 11 in 2015. No truck drivers lost their lives in these crashes. Most of those killed were occupants of other vehicles. The non-occupants in these accidents include cyclists and pedestrians.
Contributing Factors in Big Rig Crashes
The NHTSA conducted a study in conjunction with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to determine the causes of large truck accidents. They collected data from 963 crashes in 17 states.
During the course of their study, they defined a critical event as an action that made a collision unavoidable. They identified several of these critical events:
- Loss of control of the vehicle. This could have been caused by speeding, defective brakes or tires, a shift in cargo or substandard road conditions.
- Running off the road or into another lane.
- Rear end collisions with another vehicle.
In the vast majority of incidents (87%), the study concluded that crashes were caused by the non-performance or poor decision making by the driver. Vehicle malfunction and environmental factors accounted for the remainder.
There were a number of other factors associated with large truck crashes:
- Brake failure
- Prescription or over-the-counter drug use
- Driving on unfamiliar routes
- Traffic congestion
The risk of fatality or injury in crashes with heavy trucks is increased when these vehicles are transporting hazardous materials which can cause a problem after a collision. These substances often include explosives, corrosive chemicals, flammable liquids, gases and poisonous substances.