Make no mistake about it; truck accidents are scary.
Trucks are an anomaly of our era. They are gigantic and are used to cart materials in extremely large quantities all over the nation. Some argue those quantities are too large. They also tend be run by companies that have big concerns over turning profit, which means long hours behind the wheel for drivers with strict deadlines and arrival times that have to be met, or the driver pays the price. As you can imagine some also argue that the rules for drivers are too challenging.
They may be right. The heavy pressure of so many rules and the stress of being on the road mixed together are a good recipe for an accident.
Trucks account for 500,000 accidents each year, causing around 130,000 injuries every year.
As far as fatal accidents go, 1 in every eight car accident deaths are caused by trucks. 84% of those accidents happen in what is considered to be normal weather, or weather that would not contribute to an accident. Think dry roads and sunny clear skies. And sadly, each year there are around 360 pedestrians and 80 some cyclists who die from being hit by a truck.
Drivers of trucks are responsible to follow traffic laws and to do their best to keep from harming others. But let’s face it, they are human too. They can make mistakes and as we mentioned they are under pressure to keep their jobs. They may do something foolish out of frustration, exhaustion, or the dictates of their perhaps maniacal boss.
In fact the top five driver related causes of accidents are speeding, being distracted, moving out of lane, obscured vision, and not yielding to other drivers as they should have. Being tired is also the cause of around 30% of all the truck accidents each year.
In recent years the situation for truckers has improved in part out of necessity. The laws have become stricter because the statistics don’t lie. Companies have been forced to make changes to drivers workloads and time schedules to comply, although perhaps a little begrudgingly.
But as the information we have suggests that trucks are still dangerous we still have a problem. Trucks have become the most formidable method of transportation of goods and we are not going to get rid of them anytime soon. The best you can do as a driver when you make your way to share the road with everyone else is employ all those defensive driving tactics that you hopefully learned back in drivers ed.
1. One of those rules is to make sure to stay out of driver blind spots. You will sometimes see a sign on the back of a semi that says, “if you can’t see my mirrors I can’t see you.” Heed it! If the driver can’t see you, they can more easily hit you. It’s just that simple. So stay in the range of the mirrors and you will stay in their range of sight and therefore avoidance.
2. Another very important rule is to take care not to cut off a truck driver. This one also applies to buses. It’s not about being rude, and they may deserve to be cut off, but the simple fact is a big vehicle like that has a longer stopping distance than your car. They can’t slow down quickly like you can and if you get to close you risk being hit. This risk is increased in in-climate weather and when roads are slick. It’s always best to increase the distance between you and a truck in wet or icy conditions.
3. Finally, take serious precautions when passing a large truck. Pay attention to the signals. If the truck is going to make a turn you should wait until they do before trying to pass. Remember that to make a right turn a truck must veer to the left first or vice versa. They are limited in that the rear wheels follow a shorter path than the front wheels and again can’t do what you can do in your car. If you are going to pass a truck, do it smart. Give yourself plenty of room, accelerate as you move around the truck and then maintain a consistent speed. Don’t move back into the lane until you can see the entire front body of the truck in your mirrors.
Being extra vigilant can help but only so much. Trucks behave differently than cars and they just are more dangerous. They are also, for the time being, here to stay. Check out this complete manual on safe driving around trucks for more tips and tricks to avoid accidents. And remember the best way to avoid a truck accident is to steer clear of one. It’s worth it even if it does slow you down.
About The Author:
Donald W. Jaburek of Pope & Jaburek, P.C. in Chicago, Illinois is a personal injury attorney with decades of experience. Mr. Jaburek focuses his practice on motor vehicle accidents, workplace injuries, slip and fall, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and most other types of injury cases.