Crashes involving tractor trailers and other large commercial trucks are a serious safety problem in the U.S. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, accidents involving large trucks have accounted for approximately 12 to 13 percent of all fatal traffic accidents each year since the 1970s. Although legislators and agencies such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have attempted to address this problem with laws and safety regulations, the risk of a truck accident remains.
Fortunately, there are some simple strategies that drivers can use to help them reduce their risk of involvement in an accident with a large truck. Drivers should remember to:
- Use caution when approaching a truck, no matter whether on the highway, a street or even at a stop light. The size and weight of large trucks not only makes them more difficult to maneuver than passenger vehicles, but means that they require a greater distance to come to a stop in the event of an emergency.
- Never cut off a large truck. Trucks cannot stop suddenly and may not be able to avoid your vehicle. Not providing a truck enough room could result in a serious accident.
- Avoid trucks’ blind spots, often referred to as “no zones.” Because of trucks’ size, truck drivers can have difficulty seeing smaller cars directly behind or next to their vehicles. A good rule to remember is that if you cannot see a truck driver’s mirrors, he cannot see you.
- Take care to pass trucks properly. A person passing a truck on the highway should maintain a steady speed while passing and should change lanes only when able to see the truck’s entire cab in his or her rearview mirror.
- Provide trucks with more room in rainy conditions and when driving at highway speeds.
- Drive defensively and avoid aggressive driving behavior, such as speeding.
- Contact law enforcement authorities if they see a truck driving unsafely.
In addition, drivers should be particularly alert when entering a highway work zone. Approximately 30 percent of all fatal accidents in work zones involve large trucks and the vast majority of these accidents occur during the day.
Of course, even if a driver follows all of these safety tips, accidents can happen. If you have been involved in a truck accident caused by the negligence of someone else, contact a personal injury attorney.