Big Rig Accidents in Maryland
The Motor Vehicle Administration, a division of the Maryland Department of Transportation, is responsible for planning and administering highway safety in the state. They must take into account the movement of big rigs across the state on Maryland’s roads and highways.
Big rigs are large trucks that have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of over 10,000 pounds. They are often called eighteen wheelers, semis, and tractor-trailers in other states. The length of these rigs depends on how many trailers that they pull, and their weight will vary accordingly.
Large Truck Crash Statistics
The Maryland large truck crash data is provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) over a ten period from 2006 to 2015 as follows:
|Year||Number of Large Truck Accidents||Fatalities Truck Occupants||Fatalities Other Vehicle Occupants||Fatalities Non-occupants||Total Fatalities|
A number of crashes showed a marked decline from 63 in 2007 to 38 in 2011, but then rose to 56 the following year. Data on fatalities in these accidents is not available from the NHTSA until 2013. These statistics show that truck driver fatalities increased from 2013 to 2015 in line with the deaths of non-occupants in these crashes. The number of occupants killed in other vehicles decreased over this period.
Recent Accidents Involving Large Trucks
There have been many serious accidents in Maryland involving heavy trucks in recent years:
- A 67-vehicle pileup occurred in December 2016 on the Interstate 95 south of Baltimore. A tanker skidded off the highway, fell over the jersey wall and exploded. Two people were killed, including the driver of the tractor-trailer, and several others were seriously injured.
- In February 2016, a tractor-trailer crashed on the Capital Beltway in Washington. The driver died after receiving life threatening injuries in the accident.
- The driver of a heavy vehicle died after it crashed on Interstate 70 near Hagerstown in June 2017. The truck swerved off the highway before hitting a tree.
Factors Contributing to Accidents
Large truck accidents are complex, and there are several factors that can contribute to these events. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published its results from a study on the causes of these crashes. They found the following main reasons for a driver being unable to avoid a collision:
- Poor judgment, which included driving too fast for the conditions and following another vehicle too closely.
- Non-performance through being incapacitated. This included falling asleep or having a seizure or heart attack.
- Inattention and poor vigilance. Drivers did not exercise adequate surveillance and often failed to evaluate a situation developing up ahead.
- Incorrect reaction. This included drivers who panicked and over-compensated.