How Can I Avoid a Truck Accident?June 20, 2022
There are more than 37 million commercial trucks registered and used for business transport across the United States. If you drive, you have no doubt come across one of these massive rigs in your travels. Driving alongside a tractor trailer can be a nerve-wracking experience.
This discussion explains why truck accidents happen and provides practical tips for motorists to avoid big-rig crashes and prevent life-changing injuries.
Understanding the Power Behind Commercial Tractor Trailers
The average semi-truck that combines the tractor and trailer is around 70 feet long and weighs upwards of 80,000 pounds. In contrast, a mid-size passenger sedan is around 14 feet long and weighs approximately 3,351 pounds.
When a tractor trailer going at a high rate of speed passes you on the highway, you can almost feel your vehicle shake from the force created. If you have tried to pass them, you know it takes several seconds to safely move past the entire truck. It takes a fully loaded commercial truck moving at 60 miles per hour up to 370 feet to stop.
Truck Accident Facts
The most recent crash data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sheds light on how dangerous accidents involving commercial trucks can be:
- In a single year, there were approximately 510,000 police-reported accidents involving large trucks.
- Just over one-quarter of these accidents caused non-fatal injuries, and 4,479 fatalities were reported.
- The average number of fatal large truck accidents per million people per year in the United States has gone up from 10.6 in 2010 to 13.65 in 2019.
- In 2019, the majority of occupants who died in fatal truck accidents were not occupants of the large truck.
- Collision with a vehicle in transport and rollovers were two leading causes of fatal accidents involving large trucks in 2019.
A passenger vehicle is simply no match for a large truck in an accident. That is why a crash prevention strategy is so important.
How Can Motorists Avoid Truck Accidents?
With so many commercial trucks on the road, it is nearly impossible to avoid driving near them. Instead, try brushing up on these safe driving strategies for navigating around large trucks and preventing traffic accidents.
Pass with caution. Before attempting to pass a commercial truck, assess the situation carefully. You need a good speed and plenty of space to safely pass a big rig. Remember that trucks need more distance to stop, so cutting in front of one can be disastrous. Wait until you have plenty of room before you pass a truck.
Also, when you pass a truck, do it quickly. You may need to accelerate slightly to acquire enough speed to pass safely. It is never a wise idea to linger beside a truck moving at a high rate of speed. Truck blowouts and truck rollovers are not uncommon. You do not want to be next to a truck if these should occur.
Stay out of no zones. Trucks have larger blind spots than smaller, passenger vehicles. A typical commercial truck has blind spots that extend up to 20 feet in front of the truck, 30 feet behind the trailer, one lane to the left side, and two lanes to the right.
Avoid driving in these so-called no zones on all four sides of large trucks whenever possible. But how do you know if the driver can see your vehicle? A good rule is to remember that if you cannot see the driver’s face in their rearview mirror, they probably cannot see you.
Use caution when pulling over. Many serious truck accidents involve passenger cars and vans that are not moving at all but are stopped on the side of the road. If you must pull over to the side of the road for any reason, look for a wide shoulder or designated rest stop. If you or your vehicle are in the roadway even slightly, you risk a collision with a fast-moving commercial truck.
Give trucks room to turn. Just as large trucks need more room to stop, they also need more clearance to turn. Trucks may require two lanes to make wide turns. Avoid moving too far into an intersection in case a truck in the lane beside you needs to turn.
Always assume a large truck needs more space, rather than less space, to make a turn. Never try to pass a turning truck on the outside because you can collide with the trailer as it extends in the turn.
Create space between you and the truck. As a rule, always create more space between you and large trucks than you do for other types of vehicles. That means follow at a safe distance and leave plenty of space if you are merging or passing in front of a commercial truck. If possible, avoid traveling directly beside tractor trailers on the highway. Adjust your speed accordingly so that you move forward or fall back slightly and create space between you and the truck.
Avoid distracted driving. A driver who is distracted for just two to three seconds can lose control of their vehicle and cause a devastating accident. Imagine looking down at your mobile phone to read a text, only to look up and realize the tractor trailer in front of you has stopped and there is no way to avoid a collision.
According to data collected by the non-profit organization End Distracted Driving, distracted driving was a factor in 15 percent of personal injury crashes and eight percent of fatal vehicle accidents in 2019. Distracted driving involves any activity that diverts attention away from the task of driving.
There are three types of distractions:
- Cognitive: When your mind and concentration wanders from driving
- Manual: Any object or activity that takes your hands off the wheel and controls
- Visual: Actions or objects that divert your eyes off the road
Commit to prevent distracted driving every time you get behind the wheel. Put your phone on Do not disturb and take care of grooming, eating, adjusting the radio, and other tasks before you even start your vehicle.
Be a predictable driver. Everyone on the road has a responsibility to do their part to prevent motor vehicle accidents. That includes being a predictable driver. What does it mean to drive predictably?
Predictable driving means alerting other drivers to your next step and avoiding sudden actions that do not give a truck driver time to react.
Signaling before turning or changing lanes is the most important thing you can do to stay predictable. Avoid passing or stopping short in front of large trucks as well. Maintain a steady direction and speed and check your blind spots before changing lanes or turning.
When you are predictable, you give truckers and other drivers the chance to adjust their driving accordingly. They can slow down, move over, or stop in time to avoid a truck accident.
What to Do if You Are Injured in a Truck Accident
Accidents involving commercial trucks are especially complex. Truck owners are well prepared to handle accident claims. They have a team of internal investigators and insurance adjusters at the ready. Their goal is to gather evidence and build a compelling case to avoid liability.
If you have been hurt in an accident with a tractor trailer, prompt medical attention should always be your first priority. Even if you feel okay initially, be sure to see a doctor to rule out invisible or delayed-onset injuries.
From there, contact a truck accident lawyer to review your case, gather evidence, and recommend an effective legal strategy to prove liability and recover damages for medical bills and other losses. You may be entitled to compensation after a serious truck accident.
Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Clients Injured in Collisions with Trucks
Truck accident claims come with unique challenges compared with accidents involving passenger vehicles. The Baltimore truck accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton have the skill and experience it takes to take on large trucking fleets and their insurance companies. We will fight hard to achieve justice for you so that you can focus on healing after a serious accident. Call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
We have offices in Baltimore, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, allowing us to represent clients in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.