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From the Left Lane Articles, Personal Injury



 Once again – Welcome to South Florida.  Have you played “TRUCK POKER” on I-95?  It’s an eye opener.

The average length of an eighteen wheeler varies greatly depending on the type of cab they are driving.  But the overall average is 70-80 ft. long.  An average car is between 12 and 15 feet in length. It’s simple  – a truck is 6 times as long as a car.  That’s a nice card to hold in a game of poker.  I want to call this a nice “high” card.

The legal weight for an eighteen wheeler is 80,000 lbs. [40 tons]. That is without any oversize or overweight permits.  In comparison,  the average automobile weighs somewhere around 3,500 lbs. Again – it’s simple – a truck weighs over twenty times what a car weighs. Let’s call this one a pair of aces.

The length of time to stop an eighteen wheeler is 40% greater than that of an automobile.  Depending on the weight of their load,  whether they are bobtailing,  road conditions,  and other factors.  It takes a much greater time to stop than an automobile… period.  a car can stop from 70 miles per hour in about 315 feet, including the time to “THINK” about stopping.  From the time the driver “see” he need to hit the brakes, an 18 wheel truck will take 450-500 feet to make the same stop.  Hmmm… let’s see – if I stop for a car disabled on I-95 and have to slam on the brakes and the truck behind me – hits the brakes a second later…..  Let’s just say that might be “three of kind.”

Now – when the truck behind me “slams” on the brakes – what happens.  A truck is really two vehicles – a cab (tractor) and a trailer (all the weight).  They are connected in only one place, through the fifth wheel – the hitch behind the tractor.  Each has its own braking system.  The cab is well maintained as it is usually owned and operated by an independent operator.  The trailer? – not so well maintained.  Its brakes may not be up to par, its tires not in great condition.  When the driver realizes he must stop in an emergency, he “nails” the brakes.  The cab reacts differently than the trailer does to full braking.  This causes the trailer to “jack knife.”  Basically, a jack-knife accident is when the trailer contacts the tractor by the trailer “coming around” on the driver. It is said that once a trailer exceeds a 45 degree angle, compared to the tractor, that a jack-knife is inevitable. This can be caused my many things and happens when the trailer wheels start to skid.  It can happen on dry roads when the the driver has to do some very hard braking.  Now you have a truck that is not going to stop in 450 feet but an 80 foot long missile careening sideways completely across the highway.  Lets all this one a “full house.” and BANG – You have NO CHANCE.

Let’s up the stakes and add a load of gasoline, fertilizer, chemicals, livestock, acid, or produce and you have a formula for a real disaster.  If you have ever seen one of these accidents it will put “fear” into you.

In south Florida, I-95 is  at a minimum five lanes wide.  This a MAJOR highway.  From PGA Boulevard to Biscayne Boulevard, no trucks are supposed to use the left lane.  But this law is widely ignored.  When traffic is bunched up, the trucker’s do not want to slow as it uses fuel to slow down and speed up.  They will change lanes to an available through lane, whether it is to the right or left.  This maneuver requires over 150 feet of moving highway, all at 70 mph.  That is approximately  1/4 miles of distance at that speed.  How many times have you been in the left lane and seen truck swing into the lane to get around a slow mover.  If someone should hit the brakes ahead or “lose it” there is nowhere for the truck to go.  It is a recipe for disaster.

Growing up on Long Island, New York, most of the major highways are “car only.”  No trucks, no commercial vehicles, no trailers.  While these roads are heavily trafficked, the death and serious injury rates are significantly less than roads permitting a mix of vehicles.

In  2008:

* 4,066 large trucks and 247 buses were involved in crashes resulting in fatalities

* There were 4,229 fatalities in crashes involving large trucks and 307 fatalities in crashes involving buses

* 129,653 large trucks and 14,045 buses were involved in non-fatal crashes

* 51,680 large trucks and 7,603 buses were involved in crashes resulting in injury

* There were 71,329 injuries in crashes involving large trucks and 17,148 injuries in crashes involving buses

* 77,973 large trucks and 6,442 buses were involved in tow-away crashes

If you have any question regarding this or any other legal matter our firm may be able to help you. Please contact Jupiter Legal Advocates at (561) 748-8000 or email us at for further information and assistance. We try our very best to respond immediately.

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