In truck accidents, the occupants of the smaller vehicle are often at a higher risk of getting injured or killed. There is simply no way that a smaller vehicle that averages only a few tons can stand up to being struck by a truck of 80,000 pounds (lbs). Unfortunately, that means that someone who is hit by a semitruck may end up with life-changing or life-ending injuries.

Force, velocity and mass play a major role in the severity of the injuries that take place. For example, if a car hits a semitruck head-on when they are both traveling at 55 mph, you can expect that the crash will be worse than if the semitruck rear-ends the smaller vehicle while they’re both traveling at the same speed.

Part of what causes people to suffer injuries is that their vehicles can’t absorb enough of the impact. Upon impact, the force of the crash is absorbed by the car’s body crumpling or bending. Any additional energy that remains has to go somewhere. Unfortunately for the occupants, that usually means that they will take a harder hit.

The body can only absorb so much of an impact. For instance, even if you hit head-on and the front end crumples, you’ll likely still have significant force applied where the seat belt lies across the chest and pelvic region. You’ll also have the potential for organ damage, bruising and other issues as a result of your body trying to absorb the shock of the incident.

There is no easy way to make a crash between two vehicles as different as these safer, so drivers need to be cautious. If you are hit, you could have lasting injuries that require long-term care.