Preventing Accidents: The Importance of Truck Safety

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, most fatal vehicle accidents involving larger trucks claim the lives of those in passenger vehicles. This is simply because larger trucks often weigh approximately 20 to 30 times as much as passenger cars. Moreover, hefty trucks are taller and have greater clearances than smaller vehicles. This means that low-riding cars can easily slide under truck trailers, resulting in fatal consequences.

Rear underride guards are supposed to prevent this type of accident; however, research suggests that guards that meet federal safety standards often fail - even in low-speed collisions. As a result, practicing safe driving is essential to truck accident prevention. Understanding common causes of truck collisions, as well as how to avoid them, can help save lives.

What causes truck accidents?

Fatigue

Many truck-driving accidents result from fatigue. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety administration, approximately 4,000 people die in large truck accidents per year, and fatigue is a leading cause of these collisions. Under federal regulations, operators of large trucks are permitted to drive in stretches as long as 11 hours. However, research suggests that many truck drivers violate such regulations and drive for longer periods - well beyond the 11-hour limit. As a result, some safety advocates are pushing for electronic onboard recorders for commercial trailers, which would help ensure that drivers are compliant with federal mandates. Such devices could replace falsified record books that truck drivers use to log working hours.

Brakes

In comparison to smaller passenger cars, the stopping distance for trucks is extremely long. This is especially true on slippery or wet roads. Braking can also be an accident issue if brakes are poorly maintained.

Rolling over

Larger trucks are also prone to tipping over. As result, some safety proponents have suggested that truck tractors come equipped with electronic stability control, which can reduce rollover rates. Fatigue, brakes and rolling over are just a few issues that frequently lead to truck accidents. For this reason, accident prevention is important.

How can truck drivers avoid accidents?

Rest

It is imperative that truck drivers get solid rest before long journeys. It is beneficial to stay healthy as a motorist, too. If a driver does not feel well or is not rested, he or she should not operate a truck.

Work zone awareness

Truck drivers should also be cautious of construction zones. According to Road Safe America, almost 33 percent of fatal construction crashes involve larger vehicles. Moreover, most of these truck accidents occur during the day. As a result, it helps to lower speeds throughout work zones. Motorists should also allow for room.

No zones

Truck operators should also be aware of blind spots. Many accidents between larger trucks and passenger vehicles occur in what is called "no-zone" areas surrounding the truck. Collisions ensue as smaller vehicles become tucked into a blind section. Truck drivers should always look out for hidden cars. This is especially true because other motorists may not be as conscious of blind spots. It helps if rearview mirrors are regularly adjusted.

Distance

Truckers should also allow for space between the vehicle and other passenger cars. Truck operators are considered "at fault" in most rear-end collisions when they hit someone from behind. Again, because of their mass, larger trucks tend to have long stopping distances. For this reason, operators should look ahead for difficult braking situations.

Maintenance

Maintenance is essential to preventing truck collisions. All truck drivers should inspect vehicles before and after each journey - especially the brakes. Defective brakes are frequently cited as a safety and maintenance violation. As a result, operators should learn how to sufficiently evaluate the brakes and identify any issues. Technical problems should be addressed immediately.

Defensive driving

Truck drivers should avoid all aggressive motorists and maintain a safe speed. It helps to keep a solid distance from other vehicles, as well. Excessive speed and abrupt stops can increase the chance of an accident.

Seatbelts

Seatbelts are important to truck driving safety. Operators and passengers should buckle up behind the wheel. Fastening a seatbelt can prevent a motorist from flying out of the driver's seat. Moreover, this security can also allow one to maintain power at the wheel in the event of an accident.

How can passenger cars avoid collisions with trucks?

In addition, those in passenger vehicles should be mindful of driving safety around trucks. Accidents between passenger vehicles and commercial trucks can be avoided with the following tips:

  • Motorists should be alert when approaching trucks. Trucks behave in unique ways, as they are much larger than standard cars.
  • Drivers should avoid no zone areas around a truck. If an operator cannot be viewed in the truck's side mirrors, chances are, he or she cannot see any hidden cars in the blind spots. According to Road Safe America, roughly 33 percent of collisions between large trucks and smaller vehicles take place in the blind spots.
  • Motorists should not pass a truck on the right side while the trailer is attempting a right turn. Larger trucks must swing to the left to negotiate right turns safely. Therefore, those in passenger cars should not obstruct a turn.
  • Drivers should not cut off large vehicles. Again, trucks require a much greater stopping distance. If a vehicle cuts in front of a large truck, this might force the truck to stop too quickly, causing a collision.
  • Motorists should accelerate slightly before passing a truck and maintain a steady speed during the pass. Passenger motorists should attempt to view the entire cab of a truck in the rearview mirror before moving in front of a larger vehicle. Moreover, drivers should always observe a truck's signals before passing.
  • Drivers should allow for approximately five seconds of space between the car and truck at highway speeds.

In the end, safety prevention is a two-way street. Both truck drivers and motorists must work at solid driving practices. These tips can aid motorists on the road.

The importance of truck safety

While the trucking industry demands that goods be delivered in an expedited fashion, ignoring truck safety is by no means a good idea. By law, truck operators and owners must follow several state and federal guidelines, which govern laws concerning mileage limits, speed, breaks for operators, maintenance, load limitations, truck operation and so on.

The bad news is that some truckers engage in negligent driving behaviors and fail to follow safe driving practices. This results in truck accidents - many of which are deadly. If you or a loved one has been a victim of poor trucking or driving practices, it is imperative to get legal help. Negligent motorists should be held accountable for any shortcomings in safety.

Legal assistance is helpful

Those injured in truck accidents have the right to receive compensation from negligent parties, as well as their respective insurance companies. In pursuing recovery, it helps to have an attorney by your side who specializes in truck collisions. Victims of accidents often navigate technical legal issues and difficult jurisdictional concerns. Moreover, some crashes involve defective equipment and insurance issues, which can make legal matters even more multifaceted.

To learn more about truck driving safety and your options after a harmful or deadly accident, speak with a local personal injury law attorney about your matter.