A fatal truck accident in Maryland is just another example of how devastating these crashes can be to the people driving smaller cars who have the misfortune to be in the way.
The crash happened in the very early morning of Thursday, October 24, 2019, on Interstate 70 in New Market, Maryland. A tractor-trailer was going eastbound at 3 a.m. when it apparently rear-ended a Honda Civic going in the same direction. It is unclear what caused the truck to hit the car in the back.
The Civic, though, burst into flames from the collision. The truck crossed the median and all three of the westbound lanes before hitting a guardrail and coming to a stop.
Miraculously, the only car involved in the crash was the Civic. However, the driver in the Civic died in the crash.
The driver of the truck was hurt in the accident and was brought to the hospital, though his injuries are not considered life-threatening.
The traffic backup from the crash, which covered all of the lanes of the interstate, lasted hours, with all lanes only reopening around 9 a.m.
Scenarios like these are actually among the most common when it comes to truck accidents: the driver of the truck is rarely hurt, while the people in passenger cars suffer catastrophic injuries or even fatal ones. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), an estimated 11 percent of the fatal accidents that happened in the U.S. in 2017 involved a truck. The occupants in large trucks regularly account for only between 12 and 17 percent of the fatalities in those deadly crashes. The vast majority of those fatalities in the truck, though, happen in single-vehicle crashes: only 3 percent of the fatalities in multi-vehicle truck accidents are suffered in the tractor-trailer.
This should really come as no surprise, given the sheer size of many of the tractor-trailers on the road. Legally, tractor-trailers are only allowed to carry as much cargo as it would take them to get to weigh 80,000 pounds. Permits for exceptions are possible, though, and truckers and trucking companies break these rules all the time. Even empty, though, semi-trucks hauling an empty cargo trailer weigh between 20,000 and 30,000 pounds.
Compare that to passenger cars, which weigh around 3,000 pounds, and even the heaviest of pickup trucks, which come in at close to 5,000 pounds. The result is a huge vehicle that collides with and goes through other vehicles on the road.
This is why it is so important to raise the minimum insurance requirements for commercial drivers and truckers. Currently, federal regulations only require truckers to carry up to $750,000 in liability insurance. With the skyrocketing costs of healthcare in the U.S., three-quarters of a million dollars is often not even enough to cover a single catastrophic injury or wrongful death case. In trucking accidents where there are multiple victims, each of whom has suffered terrible injuries, that $750,000 gets split between all victims, leaving them woefully under-compensated for their injuries.