Trucks are everywhere on our highways. In many ways, they are the lifelines to our society by delivering and hauling products or foods we depend upon every day. The Covid-19 crisis has made us all more aware of how vital their services are to us. When panic hit our county about the stay-in-place or stay-home guidelines being issued from health officials, our grocery stores were left with empty shelves and people could not find toilet paper, paper towels, hand sanitizers, baby formula, plus other “essential” products. Our nation’s trucking network stepped up to the task and came to our rescue in replenishing the much-needed products.
Driving trucks for a vocation is not an easy occupation. Many truck drivers spend long hours or weeks away from their families while traveling on our highways. Thus, this job presents a real danger of having an accident, a possible fatal accident.
Even though trucks are a great asset to our way of life, they can and do cause serious accidents and injuries as well as fatalities every day on our roads. They are prone to deadly accidents based on their size and weight, which make their impact considerably greater than the average vehicle. They are harder to maneuver in tight spaces and take longer to stop when brakes are quickly needed.
Here are five critical facts about truck accidents (1):
- 500,000 truck-related accidents occur yearly in the United States. Worldwide, millions of crashes involving trucks are reported.
- During 2017, 4,889 large trucks were crashed in accidents that have also resulted in fatalities.
- Between 2009 and 2017, the number of trucks and buses that have been involved in fatal accidents has increased by 42%.
- Research has shown that 68% of fatal truck-related accidents take place in rural areas, on interstate roads, and highways.
- In 2017, truck-related accidents were responsible for 11% of roadside fatalities in the United States.
What are the causes of these accidents?
The World Health Organization (WHO) has done research that predicts road accidents will become the fifth leading cause of death by 2030. Many of these crashes will involve trucks. It has been determined that the majority of these are caused by these critical driver’s errors:
- Failure to adjust speed for varying road conditions
- Unfamiliar territory
- Fatigue from not getting proper rest
- Illegal driving maneuvers
- OTC drug usage
- Inadequate observation of surroundings and traffic conditions
- Inadequate mechanical maintenance, especially brakes and tires
- Unsafe weather conditions like fog, ice, snow, flooding, etc.
- Highway conditions like dangerous and winding roads and unkempt highways as well as crowded traffic areas
- Truck driver’s lack of professional training and licensing
The fact is, people inside passenger vehicles are 5 times more likely to die in a truck crash than the truck driver. Drivers of cars and smaller vehicles must always stay alert while driving on highways.
Here are 4 safety tips that will help you prevent truck accidents (2):
- Allow an adequate distance between your vehicle and the truck in front of you. Driving too closely to the truck hinders one’s visibility of the road ahead and of any possible hazardous condition. Common sense tells us that leaving more space will give us more time to slow down or stop if any dangerous situation occurs. One note to remember: Trucks require 90% more space to stop than a regular passenger vehicle.
- Stay visible to the truck driver at all times. Avoid the trucker’s blind spots. They are killers. Make sure to look for the trucker’s mirrors. If you cannot see the driver’s face in the mirrors, you are in the blind spot. The truck creates large blind spots that are worse on the passenger side. Therefore, whenever possible, pass the trunk on the driver’s side.
- When pulling off the road, get all the way off. When you decide to pull off the main highway, be sure to pull off on the right side far enough to be completely off the traffic area. A distracted truck driver may not see you in time to avoid hitting you if there is not enough space.
- Watch out for trucks that are turning. Extra precaution needs to take place whenever you see a truck turning at an intersection. Because of their larger, longer sizes, trunks naturally need more space to turn as they usually swing wide to make the turn. It is also best not to follow the truck too closely while they are turning since their visibility can be limited during that time.
Considering a large number of truck-related wrecks happening daily and yearly, the trend indicates an increase in the future due to the yearly increase in the number of drivers on our highways. We need smarter policies and mechanisms that have the potential of dramatically lowering occurrence rates.
However, the main focus of improvement is primarily related to drivers’ education. It is imperative that all vehicle users are taught defensive driving skills to help reduce the alarming number of big truck accidents with other cars.
Have you or someone you know been involved in a vehicle accident? You could greatly benefit from an advocate who will fight for your rightful compensation. Ornelas & Serna are the personal injury lawyers who will be there for you. He offers a FREE CONSULTATION. He and his team will work hard to get you what you need and deserve from the hardship you are enduring now and even in the future if that is required.