Different Commercial Vehicles Pose Different Risks
Commercial vehicles are vital to the U.S. economy but can cause catastrophic injuries when they collide with passenger vehicles because of their size and weight. Certain different types of commercial vehicles pose unique dangers. This blog details commercial vehicles that are particularly hazardous to other drivers on the road.
Also called “semis,” “semi trucks,” or “18 wheelers,” tractor-trailers carry goods around the nation. A tractor-trailer has two parts: the front tractor, followed by a trailer. They are joined at the “fifth wheel,” which is a coupling device.
Because of their size, tractor-trailers pose increased dangers to any other vehicle in a collision. Other hazards unique to this commercial vehicle include:
- Jackknifes. If a tractor-trailer hits the brakes too quickly, the trailer can slide sideways until it is at a 90-degree angle from the tractor. As it jackknifes, the trailer can smash or swipe multiple vehicles.
- Unbalanced cargo. If the cargo is not distributed properly, then the vehicle is prone to roll over, blow out its tires, or suffer from brake failure.
- Overloaded trailers. There are weight limits, and if a truck is hauling more cargo than allowed, the tractor-trailer can become unsteady, much as it would with unbalanced cargo. Also, overloaded cargo can sometimes fly off the vehicle and hit other vehicles or create obstacles in the road.
A special mention should also be made about the risks posed by exhausted tractor-trailer drivers. The trucking industry in the U.S. places incredible demands on its drivers. Although the federal government has adopted safety rules that limit a driver’s hours behind the wheel, many drivers still feel pressure to drive more than allowed. When drivers become exhausted, the likelihood of causing an accident increases.
Tankers are like semis except a tank is attached to the tractor instead of a trailer. Tankers are dangerous because of their size and weight, but they have unique risks as well:
- The tank can disengage. Much like a trailer uncoupling from a semi, a disengaged tank can roll down the road without any way of stopping it.
- The tank often carries flammable liquids. Many tankers carry gas or oil, which can explode if ignited. If the tank is breached, then the liquid can splash all over the road.
- Tanks sometimes carry toxic chemicals that can cause burn injuries in the event of a spill.
These factors make tankers particularly dangerous vehicles that other motorists should give a wide berth on the road.
As dump trucks have gotten larger, they are at greater risk of tip-overs when the end unit is raised. The truck can lose stability for several reasons:
- The dump truck does not rest on level ground.
- Materials do not flow evenly out of the box.
- Lifting cylinders become worn and fail.
For those reasons, be sure to give dump trucks plenty of room and don’t tailgate—leave plenty of room behind a dump truck, especially one that’s fully loaded.
Unlike commercial vehicles, buses are used primarily to transport people instead of goods. Accordingly, the risk to human life increases in a bus accident because many passengers may be injured, along with other drivers on the road. Common risks posed by buses include:
- Blind spots. A giant bus has a blind spot behind the left A–pillar. A bus driver cannot see anyone in that spot when making a left-hand turn. Although drivers are trained to move to see the blind spot, some drivers don’t.
- Bus fires. If a fire breaks out, passengers in the back of the bus can suffer severe injuries if they are unable to escape in time. Some back doors do not work on buses, so passengers in the rear are forced to evacuate through the front.
- Bus tires. Underinflated tires are prone to overheating and can blow or become shredded, leading to fires or the driver losing control of the bus.
- Distractions. Bus passengers can distract a driver, especially the driver of a school bus. Sometimes the driver is the only adult on the bus, so no one can restrain passengers from distracting or interfering with the driver.
Drive Defensively Around Commercial Vehicles
Most commercial vehicles are much larger than passenger cars, so colliding with one can cause a devastating accident. Fortunately, you can drive defensively to protect yourself. Remember to practice the following tips:
1. Watch for tailgating: Because of their weight and size, commercial motor vehicles take longer to stop than smaller vehicles. For this reason, don’t let one tailgate you. If you do, the tailgating vehicle could plow straight into your vehicle if you need to brake suddenly. Pull over or allow the commercial motor vehicle to pass you so that it is not bearing down on you.
2. Don’t drive in blind spots: Blind spots prevent the driver of a large commercial vehicle from seeing you, so try to avoid sitting in a blind spot. Drive with your headlights on and remember to use your horn if you think the vehicle is creeping into your lane. If you need to pass a commercial motor vehicle, do so quickly.
3. Be prepared for anything: Always scan several seconds ahead and pay attention to other vehicles on the road. You want to be able to react in time if another driver drives erratically or loses control.
Injured by a Commercial Vehicle? Contact a Clearwater Truck Accident Lawyer Today
Commercial vehicle accidents present unique difficulties, so it is important that you hire a lawyer who is experienced with these types of accidents. In addition, because many commercial vehicles are owned by large corporations, your lawyer must understand how to negotiate with large commercial insurers. At Dolman Law Group, our truck accident lawyers fight every day to obtain compensation for our clients. To get started, call 727-451-6900 or send a message online.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756