Over 40% of the new highway vehicles sold each year are not cars. These "non cars" include everything from minivans and small pickups to tractor-trailer rigs. These "trucks" do not have to meet the same government safety standards as cars, even though most of them are used almost exclusively for the same purpose - to transport people.
While trucks are gradually being brought up to passenger cars safety standards most of the ones now on the road lack such simple and necessary safety features as head rests and side impact protection. Perhaps most importantly, most trucks cannot meet the roof strength standard for cars, even though, as a class, they are more likely to be involved in rollover accidents than cars.
Heavy trucks are a special case. They are the least crashworthy vehicles on the road, making truck driving -at least for certain types of rigs - the most dangerous occupation in the country. Over half the fatalities in the big rigs occur in rollover accidents because of weak roofs; a fact known to the manufacturers for at least 15 years. Heavy rigs, despite being diesel fueled*, produce about 60 fuel fire deaths each year. There is a simple, no cost fix for this which the industry has failed to employ because of ignorance and lack of interest. The lack of crashworthiness in heavy trucks effects light vehicle safety in complicated ways and is partially responsible (along with other big rig defects like a lack of underride protection) for the thousands of deaths of light vehicle occupants each year that occur as a result of collisions with heavy trucks.
* Diesel fuel is much harder to ignite than gasoline. The flash point of diesel in the tanks is about 140 degrees F. The flash point of gasoline is about -35 degrees F. There is generally only one possible ignition source for a diesel fuel fire following a crash, gasoline can be ignited by a number of sources.
For more about semi's see the Truck Safety page .
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