Truck accidents have become common occurrences on roads. Accidents involving trucks are usually fatal, especially when the collision involves smaller vehicles. Most of the injuries in truck accidents are sustained by occupants of smaller vehicles.
“It is easy to assume that accidents involving trucks are entirely the fault of the truck drivers. However, most times, drivers of smaller vehicles share as much in the blame,” says Attorney Jim Hurley of Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers. According to statistics released by the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) of the US Transportation Department, the number of people who died from truck crashes in 2019 was 4,119. 67 percent were occupants of other vehicles and cars; 15 percent were motorcyclists, pedestrians, and bicyclists; while 16 percent were truck drivers and other truck occupants.
From the above statistics, one can conclude that other road users, not truck drivers or their passengers, are more at risk in a collision. Many truck accidents are preventable if other road users can take adequate precautions. If you were injured in a truck accident, you might need to consult with an accident lawyer.
Causes of Truck Accidents
Truck crashes happen for many reasons, notwithstanding the high regulation level applicable in the trucking industry. Common causes include:
- Fatigue: Truck drivers have a stipulated number of hours they are able to operate. A truck driver is not expected to drive more than 11 hours at a stretch to enable them to rest and remain alert while behind the wheels. However, some truck drivers do not stick to the stipulated hours, leading to fatigue and increasing the risk of an accident occurring.
- Distracted driving: Distracted driving has been one of the leading causes of road accidents. Both the truck drivers and drivers of passenger vehicles can be distracted. These distractions may include phone calls, chats, texting, fiddling with the stereo or GPS, and deep discussions with other vehicle occupants. Anything that takes the driver’s full attention from the road increases the risk of a crash.
- Speeding: Many truck crashes occur due to drivers’ inability to stick to the recommended speed limits. Speeding makes it more challenging for drivers to control the vehicle. Many trucking companies have trackers that signal the company when the drivers exceed the speed limit. However, not every vehicle has these trackers, making it possible for drivers to speed.
- Aggressive driving: Most truck drivers are usually on the road for extended periods. This increases their stress level and heightens the possibility of road rage. Once a driver begins to drive aggressively, they endanger their own life as well as other road users.
- Driving under the influence: Drivers’ consumption of alcohol and narcotics can lead to serious accidents. These narcotics often lower the driver’s ability to make the right decisions while behind the wheel. Driving under the influence is a serious offense and, in extreme cases, can lead to the suspension of one’s license.
- Poor weather conditions: Some truck drivers work under snow, rain and foggy weather. Under these conditions, it becomes challenging to identify other oncoming vehicles in time to avoid collisions. Many accidents occur due to poor weather conditions.
- Overload: Trucks are bulky vehicles weighing up to 40 tons. When they are fully loaded, the weight doubles. However, some truck operators overload the truck, thereby increasing the possibility of swerving from a lane and colliding with other vehicles.
What to do as a Passenger Driver to Minimize Truck Accidents
The safety of other road users greatly depends on truck drivers driving safely and sticking to the rules. However, seeing that passenger drivers and other vehicle occupants are the most at risk of severe or fatal injuries during an accident, they need to practice safety while on the road. As a passenger driver, it is crucial to do the following to prevent the occurrence of truck accidents:
1. Avoid Aggressive Driving
It is critical to avoid aggressive driving while on the road, especially if a truck is nearby. Drivers should avoid making sudden movements, braking, stopping, or switching lanes. Doing so increases the possibility of a crash.
2. Maintain a Safe Following Distance
Trucks, unlike other vehicles, require a longer time before they can come to a stop in the case of an emergency. Therefore, other drivers should keep a safe distance away from these trucks, making it possible for the drivers to stop in time if the need arises.
3. Honk Before Overtaking
Honking before overtaking another vehicle is crucial. It helps alert the other drivers to maintain their lanes to avoid collisions. This rule becomes doubly applicable when passenger drivers are overtaking a truck.
Most vehicles are smaller than trucks, making it difficult for truck drivers to spot them, especially in poor weather conditions. Honking helps to reduce the possibility of a crash occurring.
4. Avoid Driving Closely in Front of a Truck
A commercial truck that is fully loaded and traveling at 65 miles per hour has an estimated stopping distance of 525 feet. This number is high when compared with 300 feet for a passenger vehicle. This makes it dangerous to be driving closely in front of a truck and doubles the risk of collision.
5. Avoid Distracted Driving
A lot of drivers get easily distracted. That few seconds of distraction can be fatal for drivers and other road users. Therefore, passenger vehicle drivers should avoid anything that would take their attention off the road.
6. Avoid Having Your Vehicle Next to a Truck While in Motion
Unknown to most drivers, trucks have a blind spot that makes it challenging to see other vehicles. Driving next to a truck exposes the occupants to being hit by flying debris. It also increases the danger of a crash.
The risk of truck crashes can be significantly minimized if other drivers take the necessary safety precautions. By taking safety precautions, drivers can help protect themselves, their passengers, and everyone else on the road.
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