How to Prevent Truck Accidents
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, more than half a million truck accidents were reported in 2019, 29% of which resulted in injuries and 1% in death. The trucking industry is consistently expanding and with that, the annual number of truck-related accidents continues to rise. Because dealing with the aftermath of a truck accident is messy and hiring a truck accident attorney can be expensive… the only way to avoid being involved in a truck-related accident is by being a safe, well-informed driver. In this article, we break down how truck accidents occur and share how you can be a safer driver, no matter the vehicle. Keep reading to learn more.
First of All, What Causes Truck Accidents?
There are various factors that can lead to unsafe driving and result in accidents. Across recent studies, it has been concluded that the same factors apply to both the drivers of trucks and passenger vehicles. These are as follows,
- Interruption of traffic flow
- Unfamiliar roads
- Dangerous weather conditions
- Driving too fast in said weather conditions
- Failure to adequately survey surroundings
- Illegal maneuvers
- Failure to pay attention
- Tiredness, fatigue, or illness
- Distracted driving
- Foreign objects on the roadway
While some of these things are mostly out of the driver’s control, there are still many precautions we can take to be cautious drivers and effectively keep ourselves and others safe. To prevent truck accidents, at least within the factors we can prevent, it’s a good idea to educate ourselves on the areas which we can control. As a driver, we bare a responsibility to be attentive, awake, and aware of our surroundings as soon as we hit the road.
Why Are Trucking Accidents a Serious Issue?
Trucking accidents are known to cause severe damage to all vehicles involved, but more importantly, truck accidents are far more likely to lead to death or severe injuries despite being statistically less common than car accidents. Trucks weigh significantly more than the average passenger vehicle and take almost twice as long to stop when braking. With this, the drivers of the passenger vehicles are the ones facing a much higher risk of death.
Truck Drivers are Overworked
The number of truck-related accidents occurring every year give us valuable insight into the trucking industry. While investigating some of the main causes of truck accidents, it is obvious that many truck drivers are extremely overworked. By law, truck drivers are allowed to drive for a total of 11 consecutive hours, which is a long time as it is, but many drivers violate this law and drive for the entire duration of their route. Many drivers are even incentivized to do so in order to meet tight schedules and accrue extra mileage. Not to mention, substance abuse among truck drivers is rampant, despite many companies requiring a drug test.
Truck Drivers Often Drive With Hazardous Materials
Another important thing to note is trucks are often required to transport hazardous materials like explosives, flammable items, and chemicals. When involved in an accident, trucks transporting hazardous materials can lead to explosions and exposure to harmful substances, furthering the risk of death or injury.
So, How Can We Prevent Truck Accidents?
As a driver, it is your responsibility to make sure you are well-rested and mentally aware you are driving a vehicle that can cause damage, injury, and death when operated with negligence. Distracted driving is extremely dangerous and the proper precautions should be taken before you sit behind the wheel.
1. Be Conscious of Blind Spots
Know that trucks have more blind spots than passenger cars. Chances are if you can’t see the truck’s side mirrors, the truck driver may not even be aware they are sharing the roadway with you. Avoid driving in the truck’s blind spots, which are the following:
- 10-20 feet directly in front of the truck
- 10-30 feet directly behind the truck
- Along the driver’s side of the truck going back at least half of the trailer’s length
- The right side of the truck
2. Use Extreme Caution When Passing Other Vehicles
This applies to all drivers on the road - using extreme caution when passing is a life-saving practice. Check all your mirrors and double-check your blind spots before passing other vehicles and changing lanes. Make sure you have enough time and space to efficiently pass other drivers without causing disruptions to their driving.
3. Use Your Turn Signals
Using your turn signals should go unsaid. Alert nearby drivers of your next maneuver in order to give them plenty of time to prepare for you to merge or pass. If you are in the following situations, you should use your turn signals:
- Turning at an intersection
- Passing a vehicle
- Passing an object, obstacle, or parked vehicle on the road
- Changing lanes
- Pulling over to the shoulder
4. Maintain Space Between You & Other Vehicles
You should try to remain at least two car lengths away from surrounding vehicles. This allows you and other drivers enough reaction time to make safe maneuvers. In high traffic situations, try your best to keep as much distance as possible between your vehicle and others for the most efficient braking times.
5. Keep Your Eyes on The Road
As mentioned before, distracted driving is dangerous. Avoid fiddling with the radio or AC controls and keep your eyes centered on the road. Check your mirrors periodically to remain aware of your surroundings. Be mentally present when operating a vehicle or it could cost you a life.
Conclusion - How to Prevent Truck Accidents
Trucks are essential to our lives, transporting and delivering all the food, items, and other goods we need in our daily lives. As a result, the industry continues to grow and the demands become less forgiving. Sleepy, overworked truck drivers at the wheel pose a significant danger to surrounding cars. However, we can do our part as drivers on the roadway. Being alert, checking blind spots, using our signals, and driving at an appropriate speed are all ways we can effectively reduce truck accidents and the injuries and deaths involved.
If you or a loved one has been in a truck accident, contact a truck accident attorney like The Paul Wilkinson Law Firm as soon as possible.