Big rig truck accidents are caused in many ways, such as by a mechanical failure, driver error, or other operational issues. These large, heavy vehicles demand expert handling, especially when cornering and driving around curves. Truck accident attorneys dealing with the results of serious tractor trailer crashes know from experience that poor cornering techniques can result in rollover wrecks. Not only are rollovers all too common, they are especially deadly as well.
How Center of Gravity Affects Moving Vehicles
All objects experience the force of gravity as they move. Large, tall, and heavy vehicles like tractor trailers have a much higher center of gravity or the essential point of maintaining balance than do smaller, lighter, and less tall trucks. Vehicles with a lower center of gravity require much greater effort to unbalance them, while those with a higher center of gravity can be unbalanced rather easily.
This fact is an important concern for commercial drivers who must carefully operate their vehicles, be aware of this higher tipping point, and know what can upset the vehicle’s center of gravity. Although there are a number of reasons why rollovers happen, truck accident attorneys find that most are caused by poor handling while driving large trucks around corners and curves.
Cornering, Gravity and Big Trucks
One of the easiest ways that any tractor trailer can be unbalanced and roll over is by traveling around a corner or curve too quickly. There is a calculation based on what is known as a vehicle’s “static stability factor” that considers the width, height and weight of a vehicle and how gravity acts upon it. Loaded tractor trailers moving around a curve have a very low stability factor. The lower the stability factor, the more likely truck accidents are to happen.
If a truck is moving around a curve too quickly, its weight will shift and put more force on the outside tires, reducing traction on the inside ones. When this shift in weight happens and the force on the tires is great enough, the vehicle can lose balance and roll over. Crash studies and the laws of physics suggest that a loaded tractor trailer moving around a tight curve can be rolled traveling as slowly as 5 mph, whereas a smaller vehicle would need to be traveling 25 mph or more to become unbalanced enough to roll.
Many Factors Involved in Rollovers While Cornering
According to many truck accident attorneys who spend time reviewing this information while investigating rollover wrecks, these incidents involve a number of significant factors. Driver experience is one consideration, but so is driver alertness and other circumstances that increase the possibility of driver error. Additionally, the fact that many drivers are paid by the mile and need to meet deadlines rather than completed jobs adds to the possibility that a driver may travel faster than they should in more precarious conditions.
Accidentally tracking the trailer onto soft shoulders while going around curves invites even more error that can result in rollover truck accidents. Factoring in these and other contributing reasons, it is apparent that most rollovers happening while negotiating curves and corners are due to improper operation of the truck.
Truck accident attorneys suggest that the safe operation of tractor trailers involves a thorough understanding of how gravity can affect the truck in different situations like cornering and negotiating curves. These large, heavy vehicles are very susceptible to becoming unbalanced when speed and gravity interact. Avoiding deadly rollover truck accidents while cornering requires careful attention by experienced drivers and reduced driver errors!
Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP
Robert W. Hildebrand, Attorney at Law
J. Daniel Wilson, Attorney at Law
7830 Broadway, Suite 122
Pearland TX 77581
Phone: (281) 408-2190