If you’ve ever driven on a highway, you’ve likely had first-hand experience with commercial hauling trucks, such as 18 wheelers and tractor-trailers. These trucks are massive, intimidating, and often times drive fast. Even in the best weather and road conditions, these trucks may be the most dangerous vehicles on the roadways. In winter weather, these vehicles pose an even greater risk of accidents. With colder temperatures, icy, snowy, and wet roads, maneuvering such a large vehicle requires extra caution and skill. In addition to taking extra precautions in operating their own vehicle, professional drivers often need to be adept at anticipating the driving behavior of others, including less experienced drivers.
Sadly, fatalities of occupants of passenger vehicles in tractor-trailers accidents are not uncommon. By way of example, according to the International Institute for Highway Safety, in 2018, ninety-six percent of vehicle occupants killed in crashes involving a passenger vehicle and a large truck were occupants of the passenger vehicles.
What Makes Tractor Trailers So Dangerous?
Size– Large commercial trucks are massive, and can weigh 20 – 30 times more than a standard passenger vehicle. With the added weight of the trailer and its cargo, it takes much longer for large commercial trucks to stop or safely slow down, compared to other vehicles.
Speed – Oftentimes, these trucks are very fast-moving. The speed that these vehicles travel and their hefty weight combine to create a dangerous mix. However, even at slower speeds, accidents involving tractor-trailers can be devastating.
Blind Spots – The truck driver will experience blind spots. Generally, if you cannot see one of the truck’s mirrors, the truck driver likely cannot see you.
Wide Turns – In order for a tractor-trailer to make a turn, the vehicle requires much space. Most large commercial vehicles have a warning sticker on the back of the trailer indicating “WARNING –This Vehicle Makes Wide Turns.” The truck driver should wait until all traffic is clear before initiating his or her turn, as the act of turning may occupy multiple lanes.
Tractor-trailer accidents can be avoided. Keep these safety tips in mind when traveling near large commercial vehicles.
Pass with Care – If you are going to pass, you should always pass on the left side of the truck. In addition, before moving back into the right lane, make sure you give the truck driver enough space between your vehicle and his or hers.
Stay out of the truck’s blind spots – The truck drivers’ blind spots likely include areas closely and directly behind the truck, directly in front of the truck, and sometimes even areas alongside of the truck. Obviously, there may be many blind spots. Therefore, try to keep yourself visible to the truck driver at all times, use your turn signals, and otherwise alert the truck driver before making movements.
Use common sense – All drivers are subject to the same rules. However, this does not mean that all drivers will follow them. Therefore, stay alert and avoid distractions, such as cell phones and playing with your radio when driving near large trucks. If a tractor-trailer is driving too close to you, choose another lane, or slow down and get behind the truck.
Preventing Tractor Trailer Accidents Using Technology
Modern technology continues to improve. Sophisticated monitoring systems now exist that have the ability to track many aspects of commercial driving. Areas such as speed, engine revving, U-turn detection, lane departure, and other driving metrics may be monitored in real-time. Multiple physical sensors on the truck can detect near-collisions, speeding, rolling stops, drowsy driving, close following, and much more. Forward collision warning and Automatic Emergency Braking(AEB) serve to prevent some accidents.
If you or someone you know has been involved in a commercial trucking accident and has legal questions, contact Scott Bonebrake. Scott is a general practitioner in Media, PA, and has been a licensed attorney for more than 25 years. If you have any other legal questions, please feel free to contact Scott at 610-892-7700, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.