Manhattan Tractor-Trailers—Big Rigs Cause Bad Accidents in Small Spaces

When you think of the high risk of tractor-trailer accidents, you likely consider an open stretch of road along a highway or interstate traveling at high speeds. You may not consider the risks of a tractor-trailer driving on the streets and through the intersections of a bustling metropolis, such as Manhattan. With a high concentration of businesses, restaurants, and other industries, the need for tractor-trailer travel throughout Manhattan remains strong. Tractor-trailers frequently drive through the city of New York and Manhattan throughout each day and may pose a threat to the safety of everyone sharing the roadways with these heavy and difficult to maneuver vehicles.

Rate of Accidents in Manhattan

Manhattan’s traffic density ranks as some of the highest for a metropolitan area in the state of New York. Even motorcycles frequent the streets and highways of the city and other nearby areas. In one year, Manhattan can experience over 25,000 motor vehicle collisions. Of these accidents, over 1,200 involved a tractor-trailer or large truck engaged in commerce in the borough of Manhattan.

Why Tractor Trailers Pose a Danger in Manhattan Streets

A commute through the heavily populated and congested City of New York and the island of Manhattan can prove a stressful experience for anyone, and when you throw large commercial vehicles, such as a semi or tractor-trailer, into the mix, it can prove a harrowing situation and increase the risk of serious accidents.

Distinctive Commercial Vehicle Definitions and Restrictions

Manhattan is a maze of one-way streets and road arteries that truck drivers hauling a trailer and cargo may struggle to navigate. In many instances, rules may prohibit certain truck sizes from entering the island of Manhattan, and for those that can transport goods and products into the city, the rules may limit the streets available to these vehicles. The traffic laws of Manhattan include a unique definition of a commercial vehicle as well as numerous limitations on how these vehicles may travel throughout the area.

Driver Inexperience and Improper Training

Truck drivers and their employers must ensure that drivers are prepared to operate a commercial truck, such as a tractor-trailer, within the boundaries of Manhattan. This process involves not only proper training but also knowledge and explanation of the available routes beforehand. It may prove impossible for a new driver to travel successfully through New York City and Manhattan with no prior preparation or knowledge of the particular challenges and rules that Manhattan poses for commercial trucks.

If a tractor-trailer driver does not have adequate experience with deliveries or pickups in Manhattan, it can prove nerve-racking and dangerous to take on. Any misstep, failure, or error on the part of a truck driver to understand the necessary route or traffic laws in the city can result in tragic consequences for nearby drivers or bystanders.

Risk to Vehicles and Passersby

Manhattan is unique from many other major metropolitan areas, not only in its density of population and vehicular traffic but also in the large number of pedestrians and cyclists that travel along the road. In fact, tractor-trailers in Manhattan pose not only a risk to drivers and passengers in other vehicles, but also an extreme risk to the population of residents and tourists that walk or bike each day to their destinations. It is estimated that almost 70 percent of truck accidents that involve a pedestrian or cyclist will result in a fatality or serious injury to the individual struck.

What Is a Tractor-Trailer?

A semi-trailer, big rig, and 18-wheeler are all examples of different terms used to describe a tractor-trailer. A tractor-trailer is a combination vehicle that is composed of at least two distinct parts. The front cabin, where the engine is located, is known as the semi or tractor portion. This is the part of the truck that generates the power and driving mechanisms; it has the towing capability and is where the truck driver is located. To qualify as a tractor-trailer, the semi or tractor must pull a connected flatbed trailer or container.

Tractor-trailers are used for the shipment of building materials, products, and heavy machinery. The loads often prove heavy, and truckers must ensure the even distribution of their cargo loads to ensure that the trailer remains upright and in control at all times. To legally operate a tractor-trailer, a driver must first obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). The process for a CDL usually entails a combination of an application with a written and practical test component.

How Do Tractor-Trailers Pose a Danger to the Public?

Oftentimes, drivers who share the road alongside a tractor-trailer report feeling uncomfortable or nervous when a truck is nearby or up ahead. The notion that in one unlucky moment the behaviors of a truck driver can cause devastation is a likely reason why other drivers fear these massive vehicles on the road. You may wonder what exactly makes a tractor-trailer more dangerous than other vehicles on the roadways. Below, we explain why.

Size and Weight

Both tractors and their trailers are massive, heavy objects in their own right, and when combined, they can exceed tens of thousands of pounds. The overall size, weight, and height of these combination vehicles make them especially difficult to control and drive. Driving excessively fast, especially in hazardous weather conditions, taking too sharp of a turn, or making a sudden rapid maneuver can result in a truck driver losing control of the tractor-trailer, which can lead to head-on collisions, roll-overs, rear-end crashes, or jack-knife incidents.

Limited Safety Features or Protections

It surprises many to learn that certain protections and safety features exist that large commercial vehicles could use to reduce the likelihood of a serious injury or death in an accident. This is because many of these features and protections are not mandatory in the U.S., and many truck companies and owners choose not to adapt their rigs to keep costs low and save money.

From the inception of the use of large trucks for shipments and cargo, it has been identified that the sheer size and design elements of these vehicles present specific dangers to others on the road. Of particular concern has always been the amount of space that exists between the bed of a truck and the road beneath. This often large gap allows sufficient space for a passenger-type vehicle to become lodged underneath in an override or underride accident. These types of accidents often end in horrific injuries and fatalities, but truckers could avoid the risk of these extreme outcomes by incorporating protective safety features on a tractor-trailer.

Underride protection on the front, rear, and side of a truck helps prevent another vehicle from becoming lodged underneath the chassis of a truck in an accident. Unfortunately, the use of these protections is limited, and until there are more widespread regulations mandating their use by federal authorities, it is unlikely that many truckers in the U.S. will comply.

Dangerous Trucking Industry

Trucking is a high-demand industry with questionable oversight combined with dangers created by the job itself. Employers and truckers make their money on the miles driven to and from each delivery. The faster and more frequent the deliveries occur, the more money there is to make. There is no shortage of demand for truckers in today’s day in age, with more and more consumers and businesses relying on shipping for their essentials and other needs.

Due to the high demand for shipping services and the low supply of truckers, truck companies and drivers face significant pressure to do more. This often puts these parties in a position to choose the dollar above the safety of the public. Driving more hours each day, taking less rest, and ignoring obvious signs of fatigue to get the job done can result in catastrophic accidents, which often involve injuries or death to innocent bystanders.

Increased Wear and Tear

Trucks require routine inspection and maintenance to ensure that they remain in working order and do not pose a safety risk on the roads. On average, a truck travels thousands of miles each week and up to 14 hours each day. This extreme frequency of use means more wear and tear on the truck, its parts, and other equipment. Truckers and their employers must have a plan in place to identify mechanical problems and rectify them quickly.

Unfortunately, the need for inspections, maintenance, and repairs is not always met, and this can create a hazardous condition for the truck itself and other vehicles nearby. Tire blowouts, worn-down brakes, or broken wipers are just a few examples of how a truck’s part or equipment can affect the performance and safety of the truck on the roadway.

What Should You Do After a Tractor-Trailer Accident in Manhattan?

If a tractor-trailer in Manhattan strikes you or a loved one, whether as an occupant in a vehicle or as a passerby on the street, you should take certain actions to try and protect yourself as best as possible following an accident.

Get to Safety as Quickly as Possible

In the moments after impact with a tractor-trailer or its debris, you likely feel frightened and confused. If you are conscious and able, it is important to take a look at your surroundings to make a quick decision as to your safety and the potential for a secondary impact or after-effects that could cause you more harm. Truck accidents often precede fires, explosions, and/or exposure to hazardous elements or chemicals. If you feel unsafe, it is important to get to a safer location as quickly as possible.

Call the New York City Police Department

Once in a safe area, you should call 911. If anyone has suffered injuries, which are highly likely after a tractor-trailer accident, you should request emergency medical services (EMS) as well as law enforcement. Once the police arrive on the scene, they will conduct an assessment and investigation of the accident. They will verify the identity of everyone involved and will complete a police report that will likely detail the evidence available to them and their opinion on the fault or cause of the accident.

Go to the Nearest Manhattan Emergency Room

If you suffer serious injuries, EMS will take you to the closest emergency room or trauma hospital available for further care. If you decline transport by the EMS or discover that your injuries are more severe than previously thought, ask a friend or family member to take you to a nearby hospital for further evaluation of your injuries.

Emergency rooms in the Manhattan area:

  • Emergency Department at NYU Langone
  • Mount Sinai Beth Israel Emergency Room
  • Lennox Health Greenwich Village
  • New York-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital
  • Mount Sinai West
  • Lennox Hill Hospital

Contact a Manhattan Truck Accident Lawyer Today

Andrew Finkelstein Jacoby & Meyers LLP

Truck Accident Lawyer, Andrew Finkelstein

After ensuring the stabilization of your injuries and beginning your recovery, you should contact a truck accident lawyer in Manhattan. A truck accident that results in injuries will no doubt prove complex and may require the assistance of an attorney to increase the likelihood of a successful recovery of your losses against the parties responsible. Truck accidents are notoriously complicated to manage for issues of liability, insurance, and damages. An experienced truck accident attorney understands what it takes to protect your legal rights throughout the process and will help you fight for compensation that covers the full cost of your injuries.

If you or a loved one suffers an injury in an accident with a tractor-trailer in Manhattan or an area nearby, contact a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can provide you a free case evaluation to discuss your options and what compensation you may qualify to pursue against the parties responsible for your injuries. During the consultation, you can ask questions about your legal options and learn more about the attorney’s experience handling cases similar to yours. Don’t wait to contact an attorney; reach out today to begin the process of pursuing compensation for your losses.