Staying Safe Around Trucks
It is a known fact that 18-wheelers are very high off the ground. Even SUVs and pickup trucks are not high enough to see anything more than the doors of a big rig, and passenger drivers can only see the top of the wheels if they are lucky. These large trucks are beasts on the roads that have trouble slowing down and stopping, and the only thing controlling them as they drive long stretches at a time are human truck drivers. This can cause people to get nervous, tense up, and lose confidence when driving around tractor-trailers.
Most people do not like the thought of their fate in the palm of truckers’ hands every time they see a tractor-trailer speed by. The good news is that there are some things you can do to keep yourself safe. However, accidents and injuries can still happen no matter how safe you are.
If you suffer injuries in a truck crash, get immediate medical attention for your injuries. When possible, consult with a truck accident attorney about your legal rights.
How to Stay Safe Around Trucks
You are not supposed to feel like you are at the mercy of truck drivers, sharing the road with them instead of competing for a spot. Therefore, it is important to know that there are certain measures that you can take to reduce your chances of being involved in an accident with a semi-truck.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provides tips on sharing the road with large trucks and avoiding dangerous situations. Some tips include staying out of blind spots, being ready for wide turns, being aware that large trucks need lots of room to stop, merging and passing trucks safely, keeping a good distance between your car and the truck, and more.
Try to stay out of blind spots
Since a semi-truck is very long, it can be easy for other drivers to get caught in its blind spots. Therefore, you should remember the rule that if you cannot see them through their mirror, they cannot see you either. Do not stay there long if you believe you are in a trucker’s blind spot. It might not be easy to get out of a truck’s blind spot, especially if there is a lot of congestion. However, do everything possible to put yourself in a better spot so the truck driver can see your vehicle.
Be ready for wide turns
Large trucks and buses need more space to make wide turns. Therefore, you should wait until they have completed their turn before you continue driving. Right turns are usually harder for semi-trucks, so if you notice them making a right turn, try to give them enough space and allow them to move over into your lane if possible.
Be aware that large trucks need lots of room to stop
It can take an 18-wheeler almost two football fields to slow down and stop. This is a lot of space, but semi trucks need extra distance to safely slow and stop. If you need to merge over in front of a large truck, ensure that you give them adequate space to stop or slow down.
Merge and pass large trucks safely
Turning signals are crucial when merging and passing a large truck. Always make sure that the truck can be seen in your rearview mirror and has extra space before you move over in front of them. Try not to move into their lane if you are going down a hill or mountain, as this causes the truck to have a harder time slowing down. Also, give trucks extra space when they are passing you as well.
Keep a good distance between your vehicle and the truck
Since trucks are higher off the ground than an automobile, try to keep a large distance between the truck and your vehicle. This is because you do not want your car to go under the truck if a crash occurs. Trucks also roll backward during a crash, which can cause horrific accidents.
Do not drive while tired or intoxicated
Alcohol and drugs can slow down your reaction time and cause you to make bad judgments, which can lead to deadly accidents. If you notice a truck or car swerving between lanes, crossing lines or medians, or missing important traffic signs, they may be intoxicated. In this case, you should stay as far away from them as possible.
Remain alert and focused
If you are eating, drinking, talking on the phone, or texting, you should get off the road to handle these distractions. Research shows that driving while distracted creates similar problems as driving while intoxicated and can lead to similarly terrible accidents.
Always buckle up
Wearing a seatbelt is one of the easiest and smallest things someone can do every time they enter a vehicle. This simple effort can save lives, especially if you have children in the backseat.
Patience is always key
Instead of honking the horn, driving close to a truck, or trying to pass them, remain patient and realize that a truck needs extra time to accelerate because of its heavy load.
Understand that large trucks are different from other automobiles
There are many differences between trucks and other automobiles. A few differences are weight, size, accelerating ability, braking, and more. You should educate yourself and understand the differences that cause truckers to have a harder time controlling their trucks. By taking this simple step, you can avoid several crashes with 18-wheelers in the future.
Taking the time to learn about big rigs and the daily complications that truckers experience while driving these large semi-trucks is vital. You can spread the knowledge you learn to your friends, family, and loved ones to help increase awareness of driving safely around large trucks.
Truck Accident Statistics
The FMCSA released a report showing several different truck accident statistics worth knowing. Unfortunately, the data points to disturbing trends, which is why it is important to stay safe around trucks. The truck drivers are not the only ones who can keep everyone safe; it must be a team effort among truckers and passenger vehicles when on the roads.
Here are a few recent statistics regarding truck drivers:
Close to 5,000 semi-trucks were involved in fatal accidents.
After a 34-percent decrease in fatal crashes involving big rigs, the last decade saw an increase of 31 percent.
There was also a 62-percent increase in injury crashes involving semi-trucks.
There were 107,000 injury crashes involving a truck in one year.
There were over 300,000 truck-related accidents that resulted in property damage in the same year.
Every truck crash that only caused property damage also had the potential to cause life-changing or fatal injuries had the circumstances varied just a little. Every truck accident is a dangerous one.
Why Is It Important to Drive Safely Around Large Trucks?
When you are driving, reaching your destination safely should be a top priority. You must learn to always drive safely when you drive around large trucks. This is important for various reasons, including that the truck driver may be fatigued, may have limited visibility, and may have improper training–all of which make it more difficult for the truck driver to safely control and maneuver his truck.
Driving around large trucks is known to lead to dangerous accidents. The FMCSA stated that 72 percent of people killed in truck accidents were individuals in other vehicles driving close to the large trucks. Therefore, extra precautions are necessary when sharing the road with truckers. This will help minimize the chances of an accident occurring.
Some people believe that it is always the truck driver’s responsibility to drive safely, which is true. Still, passenger vehicles must drive safely around semi-trucks as well. This means staying away from distractions, staying focused on the road, and being aware of your surroundings. Below, we will go into more detail about three of the main reasons you should stay safe around large trucks:
Truck drivers are typically not well-rested.
Truckers must keep up with the demands of their jobs at all times of the night. They must drive for long stretches and learn to sleep during the day or whenever given a chance. Therefore, it is no surprise that they do not get enough sleep and often report feeling exhausted behind the wheel. The FMCSA released a report showing that 13 percent of truck drivers reported feeling fatigued when they were involved in a truck accident. The National Library of Medicine mentioned that truckers average about 5 hours of sleep each night.
There are also many stressors and challenges that may be factors of why truck drivers are not getting enough rest. Some of these stressors include pressures from their employers to get their jobs done quickly, the lack of respect from other drivers on the roads, health problems from sitting for long periods, loneliness from being away from their families, and irritability from lack of sleep.
Other alarming statistics are that 27 percent of truck drivers stated that they live with insomnia, 64 percent said that it has become normal for them to feel fatigued on an everyday basis, and 18 percent of truckers have fallen asleep while driving a big rig at least once in their driving career.
Truckers have larger blind spots.
Semi-trucks are very long and large, meaning they have larger blind spots than other vehicles. This can increase the chances of a wreck if they cannot see you when merging or switching lanes. They may forget to check their blind spots and not see you through the mirror, which may lead to them assuming that you are not there and accidentally hitting you with their truck. Remember that you have a rearview mirror in your vehicle and back windows, but semi-trucks do not have these features. This causes them to have a lack of visibility. You can know that you are in the danger zone if you cannot see your vehicle’s reflection in the truck’s mirrors.
Truck drivers have a difficult time maneuvering and controlling their trucks.
Large trucks are very hard to control and maneuver. This difficulty comes from the truck’s size, inability to stop quickly enough, and the heaviness of the load it is transporting. Any trucker in the driver’s seat of a tractor-trailer is at high risk for danger because there is little to no room for any errors while on the job. Truck drivers must be ready for situations other automobile drivers will never have to consider.
When a person decides to become a truck driver, they are not only taking on the risk of putting themselves in danger but also putting others around them at risk. The last thing they want is to be involved in a tragic accident. Therefore, semi-trucks need to be loaded properly, continue to be maintained, and have no damaged parts. If tractor-trailers are not taken care of and constantly inspected, severe or fatal injuries may occur.
You May Not Always Be Able to Avoid a Truck Accident
No matter how much knowledge and experience you possess about staying safe around large trucks, sometimes truck accidents are just unavoidable. You can take all the necessary precautions and still end up in a serious accident with a truck driver. This is unfortunate, but it does happen quite a bit. When a truck accident occurs, those involved will likely suffer severe injuries that may lead to permanent disabilities and change their lives forever.
If you have recently been in a truck accident that was not your fault, you must contact a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. You may not have the life you had before the accident. Still, you can pursue compensation for the pain, suffering, and financial damages the accident and injuries have caused you. Call an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case. You only have a small window to file a claim, or you risk losing the opportunity to recover compensation.