Rear-end collisions between trucks and motor vehicles can have devastating effects. Of the 400,000 truck accidents per year, 18 percent are rear-end crashes. Most of these accidents are attributed to trucks hitting motor vehicles.

Many of the fatal rear-end collisions involved multiple vehicles. 18 percent of truck-attributed accidents involved three or more vehicles, where as multiple vehicles comprised only five percent of rear-end accidents caused by motor vehicles. Of fatal rear-end collisions, about 46 percent involved multiple (at least three) vehicles.

This disparity is likely due to the sheer weight and size differences between large trucks and passenger cars. Typically, an 18-wheeler will not stop or even slowdown when it hits a car, allowing it to continue on its path and hit other vehicles. A car, however, will usually stop when it collides with a truck.

Rear-End Collisions and Contributing Factors

Defective equipment or poor truck maintenance may contribute to rear-end crashes. Brake problems, including brake safety violations, were a factor in 53 percent of truck accidents according to a study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. Problems with truck lighting such as turn signals, marker lights and headlights have also been associated with contributing to rear-end truck accidents.

Drivers under the influence while behind the wheel may also contribute to rear-end collisions. Alcohol use was found more prevalent in motor vehicle drivers that collided with trucks (2.1 percent) than in truck drivers that hit other vehicles (0.02 percent). In fatal crashes, the number of motor vehicle drivers drinking while driving increased to 15.5 percent.

Drivers: Stay Vigilant and Know Your Rights

Drivers can protect themselves from truck crashes by always keeping a safe distance between themselves and commercial vehicles. It takes trucks longer to stop than smaller vehicles and drivers must always be prepared to stop when they are behind an 18-wheeler. Large trucks may perform differently than cars, so remain alert when approaching large trucks and avoid their blind spots.

Truck drivers that operate their vehicles negligently or carelessly are an extreme hazard to all motorists on the highway. Trucking accidents can cause serious injury and damage due to their large size, particularly when traveling at high speeds. A person injured in a motor vehicle collision involving a commercial truck may be entitled to compensation for their losses. Damages may include payment for medical bills and pain and suffering. An injured victim should consult with a personal injury attorney to learn more about protecting their rights and holding the responsible party accountable.