Americans spend a lot of time on the road. In commuting to and from home and work alone, Americans will spend 40 hours of the year on average in commuting. Again, that doesn’t include irregular trips you may make to the supermarket or to visit family or friends or any other travelling. Most people spend a seizable amount of their life on the road, and that means they spend a seizable time exposed to the dangers of the road.
Each year, over 3,000 people are killed and over 104,000 people are injured in road accidents involving trucks, or generally vehicles weighing over 10,000 lbs. Meanwhile about 330,000 trucks are involved in road accidents.
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Commercial trucks account for 4% of the vehicles on the road and are responsible for 9% of the number of miles traveled on America’s Roadway each year. Seventy-eight of those accidents occurred during weekdays, 72% of which were between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Families, professionals commuting to work, school buses, these are among the parties that take to the road during these hours. When trucks on the road during these times do crash, they are far more likely to be involved in a multiple vehicle accident, whether or not they were the cause of the accident. When trucks are involved in fatal accidents, 81% of the time the fatalities occur within accidents with multiple vehicles, as opposed to personal cars, whose fatalities occur within accidents with multiple vehicles only 58% of the time.
It’s not always the fault of truck drivers. Indeed, usually it’s the fault of the personal passenger cars who just don’t take extra caution when riding seventy miles an hour on the road next to an eighteen wheeler. Commonly missed traffic rules as simple as neglecting to signal when switching lanes have disproportionally disastrous consequences when made in the vicinity of these big rigs. Passenger cars are also often insensitive to the limited capabilities of trucks in comparison to their own vehicles. While passenger cars can start and stop quickly, and maneuver around the road much easier, trucks usually take 30-40% more space to stop than a car would need.
The following are common causes that put you at high risk for an accident Including big truck:
- Driving for medium to long periods of time in the truck’s blind spots, or areas where the truck has limited to zero visibility
- Suddenly switching driving lanes in front of or behind a large truck
- Turning right alongside a truck that is making a right hand turn
- Misjudging the speed at which an approaching truck is driving and unsuccessfully trying to make a turn before it crosses your path
- Making a poor merge into traffic, either too slowly or too suddenly, causing the truck to be forced to either break or speed up or be forced to suddenly switch lanes
- Poorly reacting to a truck that switches lanes, either by driving too slowly or too quickly if it is in front or behind you
- Passing on a one lane highway
- Pulling out onto the highway in front of a truck and not building up speed quick enough to stay ahead of it
- Driving erratically behind and in front of two large trucks
- Temporarily abandoning your car on the shoulder, but not making sure it is sufficiently off on the shoulder enough
Avoiding these mistakes would make all the difference in preventing a potentially fatal trucking accident. Further tips passenger vehicles should heed:
- Give trucks a wide berth during incline driving
- Keep a safe distance when not trying to pass the vehicle
- Fight road rage–there is no winning in having it out against a truck driver driving a vehicle that is much, much bigger than yours. You really can only lose.
All passenger vehicle drivers would do well to generally use extra caution on the road with trucks, and to steer clear of them as they pass.
Truckers meanwhile should also practice safe driving methods and follow preventative measures to cut down on their risk of accident. When a truck driver is the cause of an accident, it’s usually attributable to insufficient training on how to properly react in the big truck to other driver’s mistakes, poor scheduling that puts too great a demand on the drivers to drive for excessive hours, and that many employer’s compensation will require the truckers to drive as fast as they can, resulting in too many consecutive hours at too great a speed.
Another consideration both truck and passenger vehicle drives should take, is how they should react in inclement weather or otherwise dangerous driving conditions.