Semi-trucks weigh many tons, and even when traveling at legal speeds, they can cause devastating injuries and fatalities in accidents. Therefore, truckers need to be alert and attentive when sitting in the driver's seat.
The truck driver and other motorists' negligence and recklessness often lead to life-altering accidents. Yet, following simple guidelines can help truckers and other drivers avoid truck accidents and ensure safe driving for all road users.
Give Semi-Trucks More Space on Roads
Many drivers can prevent truck accidents by being more considerate and giving the semi-truck plenty of space by doing the following:
- Make sure you give your vehicle enough distance from a commercial truck to avoid damage from tire blowouts
- Stay out of blind spots by avoiding driving directly alongside a truck
- Never get boxed in between two large trucks, and always ensure your passenger vehicle has space for maneuvering while remaining outside the truck's blind spots
Avoid Tailgating and Prevent a Truck Accident
Tailgating tractor-trailers happens when a truck driver gets too close to the commercial truck in front of them, leaving no room for driver error.
Tailgating increases the chances of a truck accident and endangers the truck driver and other vehicles. It is essential to give semi-trucks plenty of space and maintain a safe distance between you and any large trucks sharing the roadway.
When traveling behind a truck or other vehicle, lower your high beams to avoid your lights reflecting off their side mirrors and blinding them.
Never Cut In Front of a Truck Driver
Truck drivers must be highly attentive on the road, as they are often accountable for avoiding accidents when driving commercial trucks.
It is essential that smaller vehicles or other truckers never cut in front of a truck, therefore reducing the risk of an accident. Passenger vehicles should also be sure that another vehicle is not in their blind spot.
Due to the size and weight of a semi-truck, cutting off the larger vehicle can lead to dangerous situations due to their size and weight, as it takes them longer to come to a complete stop than other vehicles. If a driver cuts in front of a big rig, the commercial truck driver may not have enough time or space to react safely and brake accordingly.
Refrain from Passing on the Right Side of a Tractor-trailer
When drivers attempt to pass a truck on the right, they may not realize how close they are to the truck due to its size or may have trouble gauging their speed relative to that of the truck.
Such an action can cause drivers to drive too closely or at an unsafe speed, increasing the likelihood of causing an accident.
Always approach the commercial truck on the left side when you must overtake it and pass quickly. If there has been any indication of driver fatigue, passing on either side would be ill-advised as it increases the risk of an accident.
When a driver changes lanes, they must be aware that the truck's blind spots extend to:
- Twenty feet in front of the truck
- Thirty feet behind the truck
- Two lanes wide on the truck's right side
- The driver's side of the vehicle from the driver's seat to half of the trailer's length
Avoiding crashes requires commercial truck drivers to be aware of their speed. Excessive speed is one of the primary causes of a truck crash and can dramatically increase the risk of an accident occurring.
Truck drivers can reduce the risk of a big rig accident by adhering to the following:
- Maintain awareness of how much they accelerate or decelerate when merging onto highways or roads.
- Be conscious that speeding increases stopping distances.
- Big trucks require 90% more space to stop than a passenger vehicle and should increase their following distance.
- Understand that driving too fast in inclement weather like rain, snow, and fog can reduce visibility, leading to dangerous situations.
- Recognize that most jurisdictions have laws limiting the maximum speeds for commercial trucks and exceeding those limits may not only put other motorists at risk but also result in hefty fines.
Understand the Effects of Weather Conditions on Semi-Trucks
Ironically, weather conditions can be one of the biggest dangers for semi-truck drivers. While it may seem common sense to avoid driving in harsh conditions, many truckers take the risk daily.
- Perform a pre-trip inspection - inspecting the vehicle before taking off often prevents unforeseen breakdowns during poor weather
- Check the driver's rear-view mirror - only merge back into the lane if you can see the truck driver in his rear-view mirror, especially in inclement weather
- Understand visibility limitations - being aware of reduced visibility in rain, fog, or snowfall can prevent accidents
- Slow down appropriately - reducing speed under adverse conditions allows extra time for the reaction if something unexpected arises
Know the Impairment Dangers for Truck Drivers
- Distracted driving is a significant cause of truck collisions due to cell phone use, eating, drinking, adjusting radio dials, or noisy passengers.
- Driver fatigue is another common factor in a truck accident, as extended periods behind the wheel can lead to drowsy driving. Truckers should take regular breaks throughout their trips and abide by FMCSA regulations regarding driving hours without rest.
- Staying alert while behind the wheel enables truckers and motorists to respond quickly in an emergency.
Commercial drivers need to understand their legal responsibilities when operating a large vehicle. They must have obtained a valid commercial driver's license (CDL) to do so. Such a license requires extensive training and proves that individuals can safely maneuver these vehicles.
Follow the Traffic Laws
Truckers can avoid truck accidents by being vigilant and driving responsibly. Following all traffic laws and staying alert to road conditions are critical components in ensuring safety for everyone on the roads, especially when sharing them with large vehicles.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help Injured Victims of a Truck Accident
In 2020, the trucking industry suffered 107,000 accidents involving large trucks that resulted in injury. In the same year, fatal crashes led to 4,842 deaths. When a tractor-trailer is involved in an accident with another vehicle, it can lead to catastrophic injuries and death for the victims.
The injuries associated with these accidents are often physically and emotionally life-changing. Victims may deal with long-term pain, disability, and economic loss.
A law firm with experienced attorneys specializing in semi-truck accident cases understands the complex legal process surrounding such accidents and often offers a free consultation to prospective clients. They can hold other drivers accountable for their actions and damages caused in the truck accident and pursue maximum financial compensation for their clients.