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What Types of Commercial Trucks Are Most Prone to Accidents?

With over 211,000 valid commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) registered in Wisconsin, commercial trucks are a typical sight on state roads. Although they cause fewer accidents than passenger vehicles on average, big truck accidents are more likely to cause fatalities, especially to other road users.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WIDOT) recorded 5,921 large truck crashes in 2020, or about 16 a day. Discover which types of commercial vehicles are the most prone to accidents and what types of accidents they cause.

What Is Considered a Commercial Truck in Wisconsin?

According to Wisconsin law, motor vehicles registered in the state may belong to one of five classes. Classes A, B, and C include all vehicles considered commercial trucks and require a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate legally. While Class D is for small trucks and automobiles, and Class M is for motorcycles.

  • Class A: Vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR), actual weight, or registered weight exceeding 26,000 lbs. towing a vehicle over 10,000 lbs.
  • Class B: Vehicles with a GVWR, GCWR, actual weight, or registered weight exceeding 26,000 lbs. towing a vehicle of 10,000 lbs. or less.
  • Class C: Vehicles with a GVWR, GCWR, actual weight, or registered weight of 26,000 lbs. or less (including those towing vehicles weighing 10,000 lbs. or less), vehicles designated to transport 16 people or more (driver included), and vehicles transporting hazardous materials.

Most vehicles defined as semi-trucks or tractor-trailers match the Wisconsin definition of a Class A vehicle. Class B vehicles comprise mostly buses and dump trucks, and Class C includes vehicles with hazmat placards, smaller buses, and pickup trucks not classified as light trucks.

In addition to the CDL requirements by vehicle class, Wisconsin may require drivers to possess the correct endorsements, which are authorizations allowing CDL holders to drive specific vehicle types. For example, a CDL with a T endorsement allows a CDL holder to drive a commercial truck with a double or triple trailer.

What Types of Accidents do Commercial Trucks Cause?

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), over 13% of all fatal crashes nationwide involve a commercial truck or bus. Here are some of the most common accident types, their most likely causes, and why they are so dangerous.

  • Rear-end crashes: A failure to maintain the FMCSA’s safe following distances may result in a rear-end crash with another vehicle, such as a passenger car. Due to the significant size and weight difference between the two, the passenger car is often crushed or deformed on impact, endangering its occupants’ lives.
  • Head-on collisions: Commercial truck drivers failing to respect Hours of Service (HOS) requirements are at significant risk of causing head-on collisions. A typical scenario is a fatigued driver accidentally drifting away from their lane and colliding with another vehicle.
  • Rollover accidents: A commercial truck rolling over is one of the most devastating types of road accidents. Studies have shown the most common causes of truck rollover accidents are speeding, improper load distribution, reckless driving, and driver inattention.

Accidents involving commercial trucks are often the result of driver negligence and recklessness. Consequently, if you see a large truck behaving dangerously on the road, applying defensive driving techniques can help keep you and your family safe.

Contact Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers After a Truck Accident

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a commercial truck, contact the Brian Hodgkiss team of Wisconsin big truck accident lawyers as soon as possible to arrange your free consult.

Our skilled and compassionate truck accident lawyers dedicate the time and resources needed to get to know you, learn the facts, collect the evidence to build your case, and fight on your behalf to recover maximum damages.

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