According to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), more than 120,000 truck accidents occur each year on Illinois roads and highways. Among these accidents were several thousand T-bone truck accidents. T-bone accidents, sometimes referred to as angle accidents, occur when one vehicle strikes the side of another vehicle and makes a right angle. T-bone truck accidents that occur on the passenger side of a vehicle are also referred to as broadside collisions and most often occur at intersections.
Generally, truck accidents result in more damage and injury than typical car accidents, and they are more likely to result in death. T-bone accidents are among the most dangerous of all traffic accidents because the point of impact is typically the door of a vehicle, giving little protection to those on the other side.
This makes T-bone truck accidents potentially treacherous. This guide provides a deeper look into T-bone truck accidents, including why they occur most frequently at intersections and driver-related causes of T-bone truck accidents. We hope this information helps you avoid falling victim to a T-bone truck accident. If you have already suffered injuries in a broadside collision with a truck, a truck accident lawyer can give you more information about how to proceed.
T-Bone Truck Accidents Mostly Occur at Intersections
Intersections remain the most common location for T-bone accidents, including those involving trucks, because cars and trucks cross paths most often in them. Intersections have specific characteristics and conditions that make them more dangerous for motorists than other places on roads and highways. They include:
Planned Points of Conflict
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has devoted ample time and resources to study intersections, so they can learn how to reduce injuries and fatalities. The FHWA refers to intersections as “planned points of conflict,” which are home to 20 percent of traffic fatalities and approximately 40 percent of accident-related injuries. T-bone accidents account for almost 50 percent of all crashes at intersections.
Drivers most often introduce danger into intersections. Careless and negligent drivers make intersections dangerous for others on the road, especially when they are crowded. Engineers who study road construction must also study human error. Even safe drivers make mistakes. Drivers must receive information and process it quickly to drive safely behind the wheel. The human brain can only process one piece of information at a time, and intersections have massive amounts of information for drivers to absorb. If drivers don’t process the information quickly and in the right order, T-bone accidents can occur more frequently.
Lack of Traffic Control Devices
Intersections in Illinois’s biggest city, Chicago, have a wide array of traffic control devices. Human error might play a part in a T-bone accident to the extent that a driver doesn’t see or correctly process the instructions from stop signs, stop lights, and crosswalks. Sometimes faulty traffic control devices can cause accidents. Engineers may make careful decisions about traffic control features, but sometimes they are wrong.
Intersections provide trucks and other motorists the ability to make left-hand turns, which require crossing one or more lanes of oncoming traffic. Even smaller intersections that include private driveways and parking lots can be the site of T-bone truck accident, when drivers have to make a left-hand turn across traffic. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than half of all T-bone accidents are a result of unsafe left-hand turns.
Negligent Truck Drivers Cause T-Bone Truck Accidents
Many different scenarios can increase the risk for a T-bone truck accident such as mechanical failure, poor weather conditions, poor road conditions, and driver behaviors. You have no control over the weather and road conditions, nor do truck drivers. Yet, truck drivers do have control over the choices they make behind the wheel. Careless truckers who make poor choices increase the likelihood of a T-bone truck accident. Examples include:
Federal law prohibits truckers from using their cell phones while driving, unless they use a headset or hands-free function on their phone. Yet, some truckers get distracted by cell phone use. Unfortunately, cell phones are not the only distractions truckers face that can cause a T-bone truck accident.
Other examples include adjusting the radio, adjusting climate control features, programming a GPS, eating, drinking, reaching for something on the floor, daydreaming, or watching an event outside of the truck. Drivers who take their eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, or mind off of driving put others at risk for injury from a T-bone truck accident.
Drunk or Drugged Driving
Controlled substances impair truckers, making them more likely to cause a crash. Symptoms that impaired drivers experience include:
- Slower reaction times to information, especially at intersections
- Struggles with short-term memory
- Reduced hand-eye coordination, making it more difficult to steer a big rig
- Reduced concentration, making it difficult to process information
- Reduced judgment of time and distance, making it difficult to respond appropriately to stoplights, stop signs, and other devices
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has found that truck drivers who don’t sleep for 18 hours have the same level of impairment of drivers who have a 0.08 breath alcohol content. Like those who are drunk or have used drugs, drowsy truck drivers cannot process all the information they receive at an intersection. This makes driver fatigue a common risk factor for T-bone truck accidents.
Truck drivers who don’t get enough rest can suffer the following symptoms:
- Slower reaction time for processing information
- Overall slower brain function
- Difficulty with judgment
- Impaired vision
- Overall reduction in driving ability
- Possible nodding off or falling asleep while driving
Truck drivers have notoriously long days and demanding schedules, which can cause them to be in a rush. Trucks already need more distance to stop, slow down, and maneuver because of their extra weight, but speeding increases that need. Truckers who speed cannot control their truck as easily, and can struggle to react appropriately at intersections. This also increases the likelihood of a T-bone truck accident.
If you have suffered injuries in a T-bone truck accident, a skilled truck accident lawyer can discuss your accident and injuries, help you understand your rights to recovery, and devise a plan for the best path forward.