The Main Types of Truck Accidents Explained: A Useful Guide

Head-on, rear-end, jackknife – if you’ve heard these terms before but not been entirely sure what they mean, you’re not alone. It can be difficult to figure out the differences between various truck accidents, which could be an issue if you or a loved one were ever to find yourself involved in an incident with a tractor-trailer.

Fortunately, there are just a few key types to remember, and there are differences between all of them, so you’ll easily be an expert in no time!

Types of Truck Accidents

It can seem quite daunting when you don’t know much about the types of tractor-trailer accidents that can occur, but we’ve outlined some of the most widely-occurring ones here so that you can know a little more about what to expect. Keep reading below to get the lowdown.


These are often some of the most serious tractor-trailer accidents. They occur when a driver loses control of their vehicle for some reason, perhaps due to tiredness and fatigue, a distraction, or being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The driver hits another vehicle in the front, making it usually the most severe truck accident. Head-on collisions may result in serious injury, brain damage, and death.


Also called side-impact collisions, t-bone crashes occur when a truck rides into the side of another vehicle. This normally happens because the driver has run a red light or driven past a stop sign, and they tend to be at intersections.

Although these are relatively rare, they are often very serious for those in tanker vehicles and other automobiles, as the truck crashes into the side of the other vehicle with such force that any driver or passengers in its way stand no chance.

Wide Turn

This is when the driver swings left before making a right turn rather than risking a tighter right turn. If they aren’t keeping note of their surroundings, like other vehicles at the rear or cars near the sidewalk, there’s a real risk that they might crash into them.


These take place when the driver of a tanker vehicle breaks quickly and firmly when trying to stop. These vehicles comprise two main parts: the trailer and the cab. The hitch is what connects both sections together, and as it’s movable it pivot whenever the vehicle turns.

The trailer slides outwardly and gets brought forward against the cab so that it forms a 90-degree angle. The main danger here is that other vehicles might then run into the jackknifed truck, and cause a larger accident involving multiple cars and potentially numerous casualties.

Truck Rollovers

These occur when the driver loses control of their vehicle and the truck ends up rolling over onto its side. Due to the size of the truck, other vehicles are usually affected too.

Truck rollovers are amongst the most dangerous types of tractor-trailer accidents for the driver of the truck themselves and can count themselves fortunate to come out relatively unscathed. Tire blowout (more on this below) is a common cause for rollover accidents which concern 18-wheelers.

Blind Spots

Of course, blind spots exist regardless of the vehicle you’re controlling, but they are more pronounced in large tanker vehicles. Sometimes referred to as ‘no man’s land’, the concern here is that when the driver is trying to change lanes, they might not see other vehicles and come into contact with them.

Drivers can even force other cars off the road, so these can often be serious collisions for the other party involved.


Again, tire blowouts can happen with any vehicle, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less serious where trucks are concerned. And the issue is twofold.

Not only can the driver lose control of the vehicle, and end up traveling in any number of directions, but pieces of the tire can fly out and hit other cars, blocking their view or even causing injury.


There are a number of reasons as to why rear-end crashes might occur. Drivers may be speeding, driving while distracted, or tail-gaiting the vehicle in front.

Due to the size of trucks, it can prove difficult to stop, turn, and avoid hazards. Hence, a car is in front and suddenly stops, it can be difficult for the truck to follow suit before colliding with the other vehicle.

Rear-end collisions can result in serious consequences, from vehicular damage to loss of life. It’s recommended by the FMCSA that truck drivers aim to leave a gap of at least five seconds for the best chances of avoiding a crash.

Under Ride

These are a sub-section of rear-end crashes, but they are more dangerous and carry a whole lot more risk. Instead of the truck rear-ending another vehicle, it’s the other vehicle that rear-ends the truck in these instances.

They have some of the most severe consequences of tractor-trailer accidents, as a small vehicle can easily slide under the trailer and keep moving until the truck driver stops. Again, these can occur due to tiredness, distraction, or the driver being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Lost Load

It’s vital that your load is secured properly when you’re controlling a truck. If the truck is overloaded or the cargo isn’t secured adequately, there’s a risk of the load spilling onto the road.

It can be difficult for other vehicles to avoid the incident, so in the most serious instances, there may be a pile-up of multiple vehicles and the injury and loss that this can invite. If you’ve been affected by a truck in this way, head to this site to find out more about your options.

Dealing With the Accident

These are the most common types of truck accidents. Hopefully, now you’re more familiar with the sort of issues you might encounter, you’ll be well-equipped to deal with everything if you or a loved one did suffer injury or loss due to a truck accident and speak to a tractor-trailer accident lawyer.

For more advice on taking care of yourself and your family, check out some of our other posts.