Thousands of people die every year in accidents that involve big rigs, buses, dump trucks, delivery trucks and large work trucks. Most of the victims of these fatal accidents are in passenger vehicles that are not big or strong enough to withstand a crash with a truck several times its weight, strength, and size.
DEFENSIVE DRIVING TIPS AROUND BIG TRUCKS
The carnage from truck-related accidents has been on the rise. A crash involving big rigs almost always leads to injuries. Based on data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, a total of 4,102 people died in large truck accidents in 2017. Of those fatalities, 17% were truck occupants while 68% were car occupants and 14% were pedestrians, bicyclists or motorcyclists.
Here are 5 very basic defensive driving safety tips which should be followed when driving near commercial trucks on our roadways.
1. GIVE BIG RIGS LOTS OF ROOM!
You shouldn’t crowd a tractor-trailer, being close to a semi is a terrible place to be.
Tire blowouts are common. Most loaded trucks can legally weigh 80,000 pounds or more. This weight stresses tires and they are ticking time bombs. You don’t want to get caught next to a truck when a tire blows and shards of heavy rubber start flying. There is also a good chance that the trucker will begin swerving when this happens.
Just because trucks are heavy, doesn’t mean they’re immune from being blown around by the wind. Trucks carry a huge amount of surface area and this creates a “sail-like” effect that makes a truck very difficult to control. The end result is unexpected drifts into your lane.
Blind spots are everywhere! The number and size of blind spots on a big rig is immense. The passenger sides of a big truck have a far larger blind spot than the driver’s side, so use proper truck safety techniques and always try to pass on the left.
2. PROPERLY PASS A LARGE TRUCK
When passing a big rig, try to pass as quickly as possible and hug the outside part of the lane. Give trucks much more room than you give regular cars. It can take a fully loaded rig the length of three football fields to come to a complete stop from 60 mph. As a result, it’s dangerous to cut abruptly in front of a large truck when passing. Don’t take chances, give truckers as much room as possible.
3. BEWARE OF TURNING TRUCKS
There’s a reason for “WIDE TURNS” warning stickers on tractor-trailers. Truck drivers often need to use multiple lanes to make difficult maneuvers to avoid clipping sign posts, electrical poles, and pedestrians standing on the corner. As the trucker begins the turn, they will often swing wide to the opposite side of their turn. As the trucker turns, all the driver can see in the side view mirror is the trailer. Never pass a turning semi on the side that the truck is turning to.
4. STAY AWAY FROM AGGRESSIVE TRUCK DRIVERS
Aggressive truck driving is one of the most common causes of big rig and commercial vehicle accidents. Fully loaded trucks weigh as much as 80,000 pounds and require more stopping distance than the average commuter vehicle. As a result, truck drivers are required to make sure they leave plenty of room between their vehicle and the cars in front of them. Commercial drivers work long hours under stressful conditions and it often makes them more prone to tailgating, speeding, making sudden maneuvers or trying to get another driver’s attention. This puts truckers at greater risk of causing an accident. If you see a trucker driving erratically or tailgating, stay as far back as possible. Tailgating truckers are much more likely to cause a serious accident when traffic stops abruptly.
5. BEWARE OF FATIGUED TRUCKERS
Extensive research links sleep deprivation to heightened crash risk; even moderate tiredness can impair a driver as much as being legally intoxicated. Truck drivers are allowed by Federal hours-of-service regulations to drive up to 11 hours a stretch. Truckers’ long work hours can cause sleep deprivation, disruption of normal sleep cycles, and fatigue. As a result, truck drivers are not always as alert as one should be while driving, increasing the risk of a crash.
When you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, it’s important that you know your rights and responsibilities to help bring justice for your suffering and compensation to your pain. The team of personal injury professionals at Murphy & Pressentin can help you recover monetary compensation for the losses to you and your family.