Truck Accident Prevention

Around 500,000 trucking accidents occur each year, many of which could be avoided. Commercial truck accidents are a whole other beast when compared to automobile accidents. Not only are truck drivers subject to same perils of the road as everyday drivers are, but they also must deal with the consequences of their job — driving for long shifts, large vehicles that can be difficult to maneuver in certain conditions, and equipment that can malfunction and cause problems.

Causes of trucking accidents include:

Driver Fatigue and Night Driving

Fatigued driving is a prevalent issue in the trucking industry. According to federal rules, the hours truckers may drive on a long-haul are now limited to 11; these rules also require that truckers be given a 34-hour rest period every week (meaning a driver cannot drive for two consecutive nights). These rules were upheld by federal appeals courts this past August. Although new hours-of-service regulations may reduce the risk of fatigue based accidents, there are still drivers exposed to sleep apnea and insomnia at excessive rates and crashes related to exhaustion still occur. Motor vehicle operators should seek to limit their driving from the hours of 10pm until 6am; such trips are contrary to the body’s natural circadian rhythms and when drivers are exhausted the risk can be catastrophic.

Construction Areas

Navigation around a semi-truck is difficult enough without having to squeeze into a lane encroached upon by orange cones and barricades. While in a construction zone smaller vehicles should trail behind a larger truck, leaving plenty of following distance between their vehicle and the trailer. If a vehicle is beside a tractor-trailer in a construction zone and the truck swerves, the car has nowhere to go; while technically the accident would be the truckers fault, this is little consolation when an automobile is being pressed up against a concrete barrier by a large truck.

Ill-Advised Turns

In certain situations where a semi is trying to turn left out of a driveway or busy intersection, they will pull themselves out into the road, blocking one lane of traffic while waiting for the other to clear. In this situation wait for the truck to pull out completely rather than trying to speed by and risking a possible accident. Although an accident would likely be the trucker’s fault, ensuing a legal battle can be avoided all together.

Merging Emergencies

When merging from an entrance, on-ramp, or weigh station, tractor-trailers, because of their size, are able to push their way in to just about any given lane of highway traffic. It is best for other vehicles to give trucks ample room and move into another lane if it is safe to do so.

Adverse Weather

Average automobiles have decreased stopping ability in downpour conditions; a semi cannot stop on a dime in the first place, let alone in pouring rain. If travelling in front of a semi in inclement weather try to avoid slamming on the brakes, which could lead to hydroplaning of either vehicle. Additionally, following trucks too closely in such conditions can cause greatly reduced visibility due to rain cascading off of the back of the trailer.

Equipment Problems

Equipment problems are another common cause of trucking accidents; they can include manufacturing mistakes such as defective tires, or design errors such as failure to provide back-up warning or object detection systems. However, most mechanical truck accidents are caused by a failure to properly maintain the equipment. Examples include:

• removing or depowering the front brakes, which can cause the truck to jackknife
• brake failure due to inadequate adjustments
• tire blowouts due to wear
• improper securing or load distribution
• defective steering
• improper trailer attachment
• defective side or rear lighting, and
• transmission failure

Safety Practices for Truckers:

Take Care of Yourself: Get plenty of rest before driving, eat well, and stay fit. Driver fatigue and lack of attention can significantly increase your chance of a crash. Remember that hours of service violations are serious; they can threaten your lively hood or even your life.

Slow Down in Work Zones: Stay alert and watch out for highway construction; almost one third of fatal work zone crashes involved large trucks. Take your time, give plenty of room, and expect the unexpected while traveling through work zones.

Be Aware of Your “No Zone”: Other drivers are often unaware of the size of your blind spots. Around one third of all crashes between large trucks and cars take place in the no-zone areas around a truck; make sure to adjust your mirrors and keep an extra eye out for vehicles traveling in your no-zone.

Always Keep Your Distance: Always leave enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you; large trucks, given their mass, require a much greater stopping distance than four wheeled vehicles. Remember that in rear end collisions, if you hit someone from behind, you are “at fault.” Take advantage of your driving height and try to anticipate hard breaking situations.

Always Maintain Your Vehicle: Inspect your vehicle before each trip and check your brakes regularly; it can save your life. Brake defects are the most frequently cites out-of-service inspection violation. Before risking the life of yourself and others, learn how to inspect your brakes, identify safety defects, and get them repaired if necessary.

Drive Defensively: Avoid aggressive drivers and maintain a safe speed; aggressive driving behaviors account for two-thirds of all traffic fatalities. The only thing that excessive speed accomplishes is increasing your chance of an accident.

Fasten Your Seatbelt: If you’re buckled up in the event of a crash, the seatbelt will save your life and the lives of others; it allows you to stay in your seat and maintain control of your truck. Increasing seatbelt use is still the single most effective thing we can do to save lives and reduce injuries on the roadway.

Always Work to Improve Highway Safety: Notify traffic safety agencies of crashes, unsafe drivers, unsafe roadway conditions, and any other situations that can lead to crashes.

How to Safely Share the Road with Large Trucks:

Be Extra Cautious: As you approach large trucks be careful and remember that they behave very differently from cars.

Avoid Blind Spots: If you can’t see the trucks mirrors, the driver can’t see you.

Don’t Cut in Front: Any large vehicle such as a bus or truck requires more distance to stop in comparison to cars. Forcing a large vehicle to stop quickly can result in a fatal accident. Furthermore, don’t cut off a truck to reach your exit or turn.

Use Proper Passing Procedure: When passing a large truck or bus on the highway accelerate slightly and maintain a constant speed while passing. Wait until you can see the entire cab in your rear-view mirror before signaling and pulling in front of it.

Observe Truck Turn Signals: Before trying to pass observe the truck’s turn signals. If the truck appears to be starting a left turn, check which way the driver is signaling before passing the truck on the right.

Be Aware of Right Turns: Don’t ever pass a truck on the right while it is turning right; trucks must swing wide to the left to negotiate right turns safely because their rear wheels follow a shorter path than their front wheels; you may think you have plenty of room to pass when in reality you don’t

Leave Plenty of Space:  with wet conditions and highways speeds leave at least four to six seconds of space between your vehicle and the tractor-trailer.

Truck accidents can occur for a number of reasons. If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash involving a commercial truck, or have been the operator of a commercial truck and been in a collision on account of another driver’s or operator’s error, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can protect your rights and guide you through the legal process. A commercial truck is considered as, but not limited to the following: 18-wheel semi tractor trailer, a garbage truck, a postal delivery truck, or any other large truck. The truck accident attorneys at Dolman Law Group guarantee they will make sure you receive any compensation you are entitled to. We are based in Clearwater, Florida serving clients in the greater Tampa Bay area and beyond.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765