Driving a vehicle always involves risk. Driving a large vehicle such as a semi-truck involves even greater risk. In addition to potential property damage in the event of a collision, big-rigs are also a greater risk for causing serious injuries if they crash on the road. While it’s true that many truck accidents are unavoidable, there are plenty of actions drivers can take to prevent a variety of semi-truck crashes. Because avoiding truck accidents is everyone’s job, here are 5 tips for preventing truck accidents for drivers of both big-rigs and passenger vehicles.
For Truck Drivers
1. Follow Federal Regulations to Prevent Drowsy Driving
Truck drivers are required to keep a record of driving conditions, as well as the time they spend on the road. This helps them to avoid fatigue, which quite often leads to a major contributor to truck accidents — drowsy driving. Unfortunately, not all drivers keep good records of their traveling hours. What’s worse, many feel pressured to drive longer than they should, making drowsy driving more likely to happen.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), as many as 100,000 accidents can be traced back to drowsy driving each year. This is especially likely for truck drivers, who are on the road for prolonged periods of time. To help make roads safer for everyone, follow the regulations enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier at all times and never drive if you’re tired.
2. Use Caution Around Work Zones
ConsumerNotice.org reported that over the past five years, more than 1,000 people were killed and 18,000 others were injured in truck accidents that took place in work zones. Additionally, nearly 30% of work zone accidents yearly involve semi-trucks. What makes work zones so dangerous is the fact that roads are oftentimes narrowed or shifted, making it particularly difficult for large vehicles to navigate them if proper signage isn’t used. In addition, vehicles used by personnel on site may also cause disruption as they enter or exit traffic flow.
Because big-rigs are large vehicles that require more room to stop than passenger cars, trucks going at 55 miles per hour will require nearly 50% greater stopping distance than a passenger vehicle. Unfortunately, many work zones aren’t properly identified, slowing down traffic considerably and abruptly. This makes trucks more likely to crash. In order to make work zone truck accidents less likely to happen, drivers must be on the lookout for road signs and always follow posted speed limits.
For Truck Drivers AND Passenger Vehicle Drivers:
3. Put The Phone Away
In a 2009 study, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that 71% of commercial vehicle accidents involved some type of distraction. While this number might be shocking to some, it should serve as a warning. Anything that takes the driver’s eyes off the road, even if for a brief moment, is distracting and potentially dangerous. One of the most common distractions for drivers is often caused by phone use. Text messaging, reading or sending out emails, and even using navigation tools while behind the wheel can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicle. Much like drowsy and drunk driving, distracted driving makes drivers less likely to slow down or safely steer out of trouble in the event of an emergency.
As a matter of fact, texting while behind the wheel makes drivers 23X more likely to be involved in a crash. In order to avoid a collision, both car and truck drivers must avoid all types of distraction behind the wheel. They include: texting, reading or sending emails, dialing a cell phone, personal grooming, drinking, eating, reaching for objects, and handling navigation apps among others. Even paying attention to distractions from outside the truck — such as glancing at passing billboards, other vehicles, or buildings — can lead to crashes. Being serious about safety means never allowing distractions to provoke truck accidents.
For Passenger Vehicle Drivers:
4. Never Assume Truck Drivers Can See You
Blind spots are real and problematic for everyone. That’s why many newer car and truck models come with lane change assistance technology. But even if trucks come with the feature, truck drivers might still have a hard time seeing smaller vehicles if they are sitting in their blind spot. If you’re sharing the road with a truck and you’re unsure the driver is aware of your presence, it’s safe to simply assume he isn’t. Avoid making quick maneuvers or trying to speed to pass as the truck might change lanes abruptly.
5. Let Semi-Trucks Safely Merge
Not all car drivers are completely comfortable with the idea of allowing a truck to drive in front of them on the highway. However, it is this fear of getting stuck behind a large and slower vehicle that oftentimes leads to accidents. If person after person refuses to make room for the big-rig, the trucker may be forced into risky merging maneuvers to avoid running off the road, potentially leading to injury to yourself or others on the road. When you see a truck trying to merge, do not speed up to pass them — simply let them in; it’s the right thing to do.
Conclusion: By following these tips, you are more likely to avoid semi-truck accidents, helping to make roads across America much safer. And we want to hear from you — what tips do you have for avoiding accidents on the road? Let us know in the comments below.
About the Author
Kirk Bernard is an award-winning civil litigator in Washington and California. With over 30 years of experience, he specializes in personal injury cases representing accident victims.