There are over 11 million big rig trucks on U.S. highways daily; the number of passenger vehicles dwarfs this number. According to truck accident lawyers, heavy trucks are responsible for a large number of catastrophic and fatal traffic accidents each year. Commercial vehicles pose a significant risk to those traveling in passenger cars.1 To avoid such accidents, truck and car drivers alike must understand the differences between the two vehicles to help eliminate injuries and fatalities.
How Big Rig Accidents Happen
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association, there were 317,000 traffic accidents caused by, or involving, heavy trucks in 2012.2 The leading causes of these accidents were as follows:
Distracted Driving and Fatigue – Distraction is due to either drivers not paying attention to the road or fatigue. Lawyers who handle claims for plaintiffs injured in truck accidents have learned that driving long hours, lack of sleep, certain medication, and other factors contribute to fatigue – which in turn leads to distraction and poor driver performance.
Road Conditions – Heavy trucks are more difficult to handle than passenger vehicles and behave very differently under poor driving conditions. Slippery roads, rain, and wind can create bad road conditions that affect the handling of big rigs.
Truck Maintenance and Load Distribution – Certain maintenance-related concerns, such as tire and brake problems, are a common cause of truck accidents. The way that trucks are loaded also has a direct affect on their handling. Many accidents are caused by rollovers, tire ruptures, and brake failure.
Traffic Conditions – Truck accident lawyers point out that the actions of other drivers can contribute to accidents even with an alert truck driver and well-maintained vehicle. Common causes of tractor-trailer accidents are passenger cars that travel in a truck’s blind spot, cut in front of them, or follow too closely.
Preventing Commercial Truck Accidents
Truck accident lawyers advise that better driving and awareness of other vehicles on the road is the best way to prevent any type of car or truck accident. Passenger vehicle drivers have an important role in the prevention of truck accidents and should be aware of the following:
Traffic and Road Conditions – Heavy traffic and bad road conditions affect both cars and trucks. Operators of passenger cards must drive safely and be aware that it is harder for large trucks to maintain control under poor road conditions. Passenger car drivers should anticipate that a truck could lose control and remain alert to react if necessary.
Stay Out of Blind Spots – Truck accident lawyers warn that auto drivers must be aware of an 18-wheelers blind spots and avoid traveling in them. This action can prevent a car from being clipped or hit by truck drivers who are unaware that another vehicle is next to them.
Maintain Safe Distance – Trucks require a longer distance to brake, accelerate, change lanes, and travel up and down hills. Car drivers must know this and leave at least 25 feet between their car and a truck to avoid having to make any sudden moves.
Practice Good Driving Skills – Truck accident lawyers recognize that it is very important to practice good driving skills when driving on the same road as big rigs. Using turn signals, obeying the speed limit, and refraining from road rage must be remembered when driving near tractor-trailers. Avoid sudden lane changes or other abrupt movements, and recognize that trucks cannot react as quickly as cars.
Big rigs are an important part of this country’s economy; they deliver products daily to people from coast-to-coast. 18-wheelers will always be on the highways, so passenger vehicles and large trucks must co-exist safely. Truck accident lawyers stress that all drivers are responsible for driving defensively to help in the prevention of truck-passenger car accidents!