Large 18-wheeler trucks seem to be everywhere on today’s highways.
Although they are essential for moving food, goods and materials from one part of the country to another, they have a high record of being involved in accidents. Injury and loss of life often occurs, especially when one of these semi-truck’s strikes a passenger car and forces it into another automobile or off the road.
The U.S. Department of Transportation recorded 286,000 accidents involving 18-wheelers in 2009. Passenger car occupants suffered 86 percent of the fatalities and 75 percent of injuries in these accidents. An August 21, 2015 New York Times article by reporter Howard Abramson reports that “The death toll in truck-involved crashes rose 17 percent from 2009 to 2013. According to the latest data available, fatalities in truck-involved crashes have risen four years in a row, reaching 3,946 in 2013.”
Seatbelts can often mean the difference between life and death when it comes to an accident. They can prevent the driver from striking the steering wheel or dashboard and other occupants from being thrown sideways, slammed into a door or flying into the front seat. There are many testimonials regarding lives saved by wearing seatbelts. They are an inexpensive form of insurance and should always be worn when the vehicle is moving.
While sharing the road with large trucks and other vehicles, not being distracted when driving is essential. This means not answering your cell phone or texting. Obviously, being alert at all times will provide protection when driving a passenger vehicle or small pickup on a highway that is busy with massive multi-ton semi trucks. Also, always be aware of what the truck driver is doing. They have been known to fall asleep at the wheel as well as drive faster than the speed limit. These actions by a truck driver, give a signal to back off and allow plenty of distance between the car and the truck.
Distance and Buffer
Automobile drivers should always remember that 18-wheelers and other huge trucks take up a major portion of the road and the truck driver, as a rule, cannot see a passenger car that is trying to pass. Keeping a safe distance ahead or behind this type of truck will create a safe zone should something unforeseen, like a tire blowout, occur. A large number of tires are required on these semi trucks due to the heavy cargo they are carrying. When a truck tire blowout occurs shrapnel can fly out and hit a nearby passenger car. This can cause injury, loss of life and severe damage to the vehicle.
On the Highway
Always be aware that large commercial vehicles have different capabilities regarding visibility, braking and acceleration. In sharing the road it is essential that a person driving a passenger car or pickup be on guard at all times to avoid an unforeseen semi truck accident. The truck driver may have something unexpected appear in front of their vehicle causing a sudden stop or swerve. This can result in a serious accident not only for the passenger vehicle but for the truck as well. Being aware of a truck’s movements at all times, when driving on the road, will help everyone to arrive at their destination safely.
Things to Avoid
Accidents can be avoided if the following rules are observed:
- Avoid sudden movements around trucks. They cannot see you.
- Do not make sudden lane changes.
- Do not pull into traffic in front of a truck.
- Do not make a sudden stop. Trucks will not be able to stop in time to avoid an accident.
- Do not drive on the right side of a truck that is making a right turn.
Everyone driving a passenger car or pickup on today’s highways should not assume that the 18-wheeler they are following is safe. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVAS) reports that on an unannounced surprise brake check on 6,337 trucks, 14.2% (about 900) had brake violations and put out of service. This, plus the fact that 18 year olds are now allowed to drive these big vehicles and a driver can go almost 40 hours without sleep does not paint a very comforting feeling about sharing the highway.
Colliding with a semi truck can easily leave victims with physical pain, emotional trauma, major injuries or cause a fatality. This makes it important to be extremely careful when driving behind, alongside or in front of one of these big rigs.
If you are involved in this kind of an accident, Blackwell Law Office, PLLC can help. Contact
us or call us today at (480) 448-2415 to set up a free consultation to
discuss your case.