Spring and Summer months tend to see an increase in vehicles on the roadways. That means cars and motorcycles are sharing the roads with trucks and tractor-trailers. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 13 million trucks operate in the United States. Of this figure 2.9 million are tractor-trailers. 2021 brought the second-highest number of truck accidents, 7,244, in Pennsylvania since 2005, an increase of 1,126 collisions from 2020.
Car drivers need to take special precautions for avoiding truck driving accidents. Tractor trailers provide certain dangers due to their size, blind spots, and maneuverability limitations. Here are some key driver dangers to keep in mind:
Trucks have larger blind spots, also known as “no-zones,” on all sides compared to smaller vehicles. Avoid lingering in these blind spots, which are typically located on the sides, rear, and directly in front of the truck. If you can’t see the truck driver’s mirrors, they likely can’t see you
Trucks need more space to make turns due to their length and size. Be cautious when a truck is turning, as it may swing wide or need to occupy multiple lanes temporarily. Avoid trying to squeeze between a turning truck and the curb.
Trucks take longer to stop than smaller vehicles due to their weight. Avoid sudden lane changes or abrupt stops in front of a truck, as it may not be able to slow down or stop in time.
Merge with caution
Cuts and lacerations can be caused by sharp objects such as knives, broken glass, or machinery. Without the proper protective gear, such as gloves and safety glasses, and proper training on the use of machinery and equipment results in these types of injuries.
When passing a truck, do so with caution and ensure you have ample space and time to complete the maneuver. Signal your intentions, accelerate to a safe speed, and pass on the left side while maintaining a consistent speed. Avoid cutting back in too closely in front of the truck, as it requires more distance to stop.
In the event of a tire blowout on a truck, debris may scatter across the road. Stay a safe distance behind trucks to reduce the risk of being hit by tire remnants or other debris.
High-sided trucks can be affected by strong winds, causing them to sway or drift. Be prepared for sudden movements and maintain a safe distance during inclement weather or in areas prone to gusty winds.
Increased stopping distance
Recognize that trucks need more space to stop, especially when traveling at higher speeds or in adverse road conditions. Avoid tailgating trucks to allow for adequate stopping distance.
Distracted driving or driver fatigue
Tractor-trailer drivers who experience fatigue or engage in distracted driving behaviors (e.g., texting, eating, using a mobile device) can cause accidents due to delayed reaction times and loss of focus. Be wary of sudden lane shifts, drifting, or swerving motions.
Stay alert around trucks
The key to avoiding truck driving accidents and ensuring your safety when driving near trucks, it’s essential to remain alert, maintain a safe distance, and be mindful of their limitations. Adhering to traffic rules, practicing defensive driving techniques, and being courteous to truck drivers can help reduce the risks associated with sharing the road with large trucks. If you are involved in an accident with a truck, consulting with legal professionals, like Amil Minora Law, and following their advice can help ensure you take the appropriate actions to protect your rights and seek compensation if necessary.