question markWith several busy interstates (I-40, I-73, I-85, and I-840) running through the town of Greensboro, North Carolina, residents are all too aware of the many dangers associated with big trucks and tractor-trailer traffic in general.

However, a recent accident in a residential area along U.S. 29 left many locals shaking their heads and wondering “what if.”

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Summer is just around the corner and, with it, an increased amount of travel for many North Carolina families. The destination may be a quick getaway to the beach, an out-of-state trip to a friend’s wedding, or a jaunt across the country for a niece or nephew’s high school graduation.

Whatever the purpose of the trip, there’s one thing you can expect:  there will be plenty of traffic, lots of big trucks on the road, and a heightened level of danger when traveling through work areas and construction zones.

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truck cabsWith each passing year, there are more and more large trucks, semis, tractor-trailers, buses, and other commercial vehicles on the road. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration tracks certain data pertaining to large trucks and buses.

According to government estimates, there were slightly fewer than six million registered large trucks and buses in 1975; currently, that number is approaching 12 million. It’s no wonder that semi-truck wrecks are so common.

Two recent big truck accidents highlight some of the dangers involved in the increasing number of trucks and other large vehicles across the country.

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Speeding – whether it takes the form of violating the posted limit, driving too safely for the conditions, or even drag racing – is one of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents in North Carolina and across the nation.  According to government estimates, accidents related to speeding have an economic cost in the tens of billions of dollars.

While it’s never a good idea to speed, this is especially true when it comes to tractor trailers. An average semi-truck can have a length in excess of 50 feet and a weight in the neighborhood of 80,000 pounds. It’s difficult enough to stop something that large under ideal conditions, even more so when the operator is traveling too fast.

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NY Bridge

Early this week, a North Carolina truck driver was allegedly involved in a hit-and-run accident on the George Washington Bridge. One person was killed, and two others were seriously injured in the crash.

The bridge, which is sometimes called the “GW Bridge” or the “GWB,” is a very heavily traveled, double-decked, suspension bridge that crosses the Hudson River between the states of New York and New Jersey.

Its primary function is serve motor vehicle traffic between the New Jersey city of Fort Lee and the Manhattan area of New York City, although its upper deck also allows pedestrian and bicycle traffic. It was the subject of the 2013 “Bridgegate” scandal, which involved the closure of certain toll lanes leading to the bridge.

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truck cabIt’s not clear whether famed New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra really said, “It’s like deja vu all over again,” but the phrase is widely attributed to him, nevertheless.

As we report to you the third – yes, third – instance of a roll-away truck wreaking havoc here in North Carolina in recent months, we think we know what he meant.

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bridgeAny vehicle that has a large amount of surface area exposed to cross winds can be considered a “high profile” vehicle. This includes not only vans and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) but also tractor-trailers, big rigs, 18-wheelers, and the like. Such vehicles tend to be “top heavy” with a higher center of gravity than other vehicles, making them more prone to rollover accidents.

High profile vehicles can be especially dangerous in high winds. An inexperienced driver can lose control of a high profile vehicle even with a modest amount of wind if he or she is not careful, and it is important that professional truck drivers understand and appreciate the dangers of driving such vehicles.

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A terrible tractor-trailer accident happened in Forsyth County, North Carolina, on the afternoon of October 30, 2014, claiming three lives and causing several other injuries. One of those killed in the crash was only nine years old. According to news reports, the wreck happened on U.S. 52 near Tobaccoville in a construction zone. Two lanes of traffic were attempting to merge down into a single lane, causing a line of vehicles to be stopped on the road.

Recently, the driver of the truck that allegedly caused the crash appeared in court to enter a plea of guilty to criminal charges lodged by the State of North Carolina following the accident.

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rural roadLate last year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA, a division of the United States Department of Transportation) released a new document analyzing “Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts” for the most recently available statistical year.

While every crash is unique, there is much to be learned in studying and understanding truck accidents from a statistical standpoint.

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construction vehicle

Just a few months ago, we told you about a truck accident in Georgia that claimed a young mother’s life. She died because a careless truck driver failed to put on the truck’s brakes while making a safety inspection. The driver was charged criminally and eventually pled guilty to vehicular homicide and involuntary manslaughter.

Now, a young North Carolina boy has lost his life in another “runaway truck” accident.

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