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Big rigs present unique safety hazards on the highways

Chicago is a major transportation hub for the Midwest and points beyond. As such, there is a constant high volume of 18-wheelers and other big rigs on the roads. But how safe are those highway behemoths?

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, approximately one out of every 10 highway fatalities involves a collision with a large truck. Nearly all of the fatalities in collisions with large trucks occur to occupants in passenger vehicles. This is because of the sheer disparity of size and weight between a large truck and a passenger vehicle.

A fully loaded semi can weigh up to 30 times the weight of passenger vehicles. Moreover, their design allows for maximum ground clearance, putting smaller vehicles at greater risk for underride accidents in crashes.

Another safety factor to consider in truck wrecks is the braking capabilities of big rigs. A cargo-laden tractor-trailer can take as much as 40 percent more distance to stop than a passenger car or light truck. If the roads are slick with rain, that distance can be even greater. Also, not all trucking companies and/or truck drivers properly maintain their rigs, meaning that the tires could be threadbare or the brakes ineffective in emergency stops.

Statistics from 2014 indicate that 3,660 individuals died in accidents involving large trucks. Of that total, the majority -- 68 percent -- were riding in a passenger vehicle. Only 16 percent of the fatalities were driving or riding in a large truck at the time of the crash, while the remaining 15 percent were either walking or riding bikes or motorcycles.

If you were injured in a crash with a large truck, you may wish to file a claim for compensation for your injuries and damages.

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, "Large trucks," accessed July 21, 2016

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