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Common Trucks on the Road

Joseph Benson Blog
Joseph Benson, Truck Accident Lawyer

The more you know about the types of trucks on the road, the better your chances of avoiding an accident with one. Trucks turn, stop, and handle differently than other vehicles which causes different types of accidents. Here are some facts to help you stay safe when you share the road with them from the skilled truck accident attorneys at Benson & Bingham.

Tractor Trailers

Tractor-trailer trucks (also called “big rigs” or “semi-trucks”) can weigh up to 80,000 pounds fully loaded, and more if they are overloaded. They consist of an engine and cab, called a tractor, and a trailer with a hitch that attaches it to the tractor.

Trailers come in several forms:

  • The box-type you commonly see on the roads. This type has double doors in the rear and is completely enclosed.
  • The flat-bed. This type carries large equipment or strapped-down loads that would not fit in an ordinary box-type trailer.
  • The low-boy. This trailer is also a flat-bed, but it is low to the ground. It is designed to haul heavy equipment. The low-boy is often used to haul oversized loads such as large construction cranes or boats.
  • The tandem trailer consists of two, usually box-type, connected trailers. Logistics companies like FedEx and UPS often haul goods in tandem trailers. Each trailer is the standard 48- or 52-foot box trailer, though the two of them hooked together have a combined length longer than a single box trailer.
  • The house trailer. Tractors haul single sections of a house. These sections might be a single-wide trailer up to 15 feet wide or a section of a multi-part house up to 15 feet wide. The most common widths are 12 to 14 feet. Lengths vary, depending on the house. Most are longer than 40 feet.

Tractor trailers, especially the taller box trailers and the house trailers, have large blind spots one lane on the left, two lanes on the right, 20 feet in front of the truck and 30 feet behind the trailer. Keep in mind that if you cannot see the driver in the door mirrors of his or her truck, the driver cannot see you.

Box Trucks

Box trucks constitute the most common form of commercial delivery truck on the road. Some are as short as 8 feet while others are much longer—so long that they look like trailer trucks. Unlike a tractor trailer, a box truck constitutes a single unit—the cab and cargo “box” are permanently attached. But they share many similarities with tractor trailers that can make them dangerous on the road. They are very heavy, and have large blind spots. Also, because the “box” is permanently attached to the cab, box trucks need to make wide turns, which can create hazards for other vehicles, particularly vehicles to the right of trucks making a right-hand turn from an outside lane.

Industrial / Construction Trucks

You can tell an industrial truck by its looks. It’s usually large and dirty. The “box” is usually open at the top and has a gate that opens when the dump bed tilts up. Industrial or construction trucks are more dangerous in some ways and less dangerous in others. They have large blind spots, though not as large as those surrounding a tractor-trailer. In most cases, when turning right, they don’t need to make as wide of a turn as a typical box truck, but they can still put cars in danger when making a right turn from an outside lane.

The biggest danger of these trucks is their cargo. If they carry gravel, it could fly out of the top and hit your vehicle. If they are carrying sand or any other cargo and the back gate opens, the truck could dump a lot of its cargo right on the front of your car. Most construction trucks have a notice painted on the rear gate to keep back, sometimes as much as 200 feet, just because there is the possibility of something falling off or the gate coming loose.

Tanker Trucks

If you see a truck with a round ‘tank’ on the back, that is a tanker and is usually carrying liquid (such as milk, oil, water, or even sewage) or liquified natural gas. Tanker trucks are very heavy. In addition to the weight of the truck, you have the weight of the cargo. For example, a gallon of nitric acid weights 10.58 pounds. A gallon of petroleum weighs 7.35 pounds. A gallon of distilled water weighs 8.33 pounds. A tank may range from about 1,000 gallons, such as those that deliver propane to homes up to 11,600 gallons for large tanks.

Tanker trucks present the same types of dangers on the road as ordinary tractor trailer trucks, blind spots, turning radius, etc. Some cargo they carry also creates special hazards. In an accident, combustible contents of a tanker can explode, and toxic contents can release dangerous fumes that sicken people in surrounding areas. For this reason, tanker drivers usually have to carry special certifications to ensure they handle their cargo with extra care.

Emergency Vehicles

Many fire trucks and ambulances fit the large truck classification. Some may be on the smaller end of the scale and have a box shape. But others, like fire trucks, are quite long and have blind spots and turning radii similar to the largest box and tractor trailer trucks. Emergency vehicles also have special privileges on the road.

Most people realize that when they hear sirens, they must pull off the road as soon as it is safe to give these trucks plenty of room to maneuver. Many states have “move over” laws that require drivers to move to the next lane over on a highway or slow down considerably when passing emergency vehicles on the interstate. These laws not only keep you from running into emergency vehicles, but they protect the first responders so that they may safely do their jobs.

If you were in a traffic accident with a large truck, a free consultation with a truck accident lawyer can help you determine if you can seek compensation to help pay for your injuries.

Benson & Bingham Accident Injury Lawyers, LLC
626 S 10th St
Las Vegas, NV 89101
702-382-9797

Benson and Bingham