If you have been at the receiving end of a swearing and cursing truck driver, you would know what it will mean if you get involved in an accident with him, that is, if you survive the crash! Large trucks, though essential for ferrying goods from one place to the other, are a menace on the road.
If the accident statistics is anything to go by, in 2017 alone the number of fatalities involving large trucks climbed to 16 percent. According to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) of the US Department of Transportation, a total of 3,986 people died due to large truck crashes in 2016. Of these, 17 percent were truck occupants, while a whopping 66 percent were occupants of lighter vehicles. This figure indicates a jump of 27 percent from 2009.
The deadly large trucks
A large truck is defined as any medium or heavy truck weighing over 10,000 pounds. This excludes buses and motorhomes and includes both commercial and non-commercial vehicles. Of course, when such large trucks, weighing 20 to 30 times more than lighter vehicles, crash into them, the fatalities among the occupants of lighter vehicles is bound to be much more.
There can be many reasons for large truck accidents. Such accidents may occur due to losing control on wet and slippery roads, poorly maintained brakes, driver fatigue due to driving over 11 hours in contravention to the laid down hours by federal hours-of-service regulations, and many others.
Steps to avoid getting involved in large truck accidents
To quote Bill Reese, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance COHMED program director, “When a commercial vehicle is involved in a multiple vehicle crash, the other vehicle is the primary cause of the crash about 70 percent of the time.” And this data has remained consistent for many years.
So, it becomes all the more important to know the ways to avoid getting involved in accidents with large trucks. Lakota R Denton, PA, renowned personal injury lawyer provides the following tips in his website lakotardenton:
#1 Never tailgate a large truck
It is dangerous to follow any vehicle too closely, but tailgating a large truck is inviting disaster. The safe following distance from a large truck on a highway should be over 500 feet, depending on the speed at which it is travelling. This time lag allows the driver to perceive what is happening in front and react instantly.
#2 Don’t get distracted while driving
Today, it is not the people and buildings you are driving past that distract. The present-day distraction is your smartphone. A microsecond of diverted attention from the road may result in an accident. And if the other vehicle happens to be a large truck then you can very well figure in the fatality statistics. So, the bottom line is to avoid getting distracted by your phones or any other electronic devices in your vehicles.
#3 Remain ever-aware of other drivers
If you are an experienced driver, you can make out how the other person is driving merely by observing his or her driving. If he or she is weaving, texting or not focusing on the road due to some distraction, it can very well result in an accident. So, remaining aware of other drivers assumes importance, more so, if it is a large truck driver.
#4 Anticipate and preempt the action of large trucks
If you just keep your eyes on the vehicle in front of you, you can very well become a part of a pile-up. So, look farther ahead than just the vehicle directly in front of you. The key is to look one-fourth to one-half mile ahead or even further. This will make distant brake lights and vehicle emergency lights visible, and help you take timely pre-emptive action, such as slowing down or braking.
#5 Be aware of the road condition
Although most of the highways offer a smooth ride, there may be some patches where repair work is in progress. A large truck may very well cross over to the next lane without warning in order to avoid the debris and if you don’t anticipate this, you can very well crash into the truck. So, always have your eyes peeled on the road for rough stretches, oil spills and any other obstructions.
#6 Consider the weather
Weather has a direct bearing on the road condition. If it is snowing, you will need to drive carefully and cater to the ice on the road. If it is raining heavily, you will need to use your wipers, reduce speed and keep an eye on the vehicle in front. Same with the fog. As a rule, increase the distance from the vehicle in front of you during inclement weather or, better still, pull over and wait if it is snowing or raining heavily, before continuing.
Accidents are always waiting to happen on the road and the fault may not be entirely yours. The situation becomes serious, if you get involved in a crash with a large truck. The shocking statistics of fatalities involving large trucks should act as a deterrent for you to be anywhere near them while driving on the road.