Sharing the Road With Trucks
October 27, 2017
One glance at a roadway will show you that it’s being shared by vehicles of all shapes and sizes. Large trucks and 18 wheelers are especially noticeable. They can be many times the size of vehicles around them. Such massive size and weight are potentially dangerous. These vehicles can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and may need up to 100 yards to stop! For this reason, it’s important to consider some basic facts and safety rules for sharing the road with trucks.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has the following advice for sharing the road with 18 wheelers:
Do Not Tailgate
You should leave 20-25 car lengths between your vehicle and a truck. The large silhouette of the truck can obscure your ability to see approaching traffic conditions. An increased following distance allows you to see ahead of the truck and react to upcoming traffic conditions.
Further, a severe collision can result when you rear-end a truck. Large trucks and trailers typically don’t have the impact-absorbing bumpers found in cars. The truck’s metal bumpers also may not align with those of your car, allowing the truck to ride up onto your vehicle in a crash. In a rear end collision with a truck, the car will lose every time.
Watch Out for Blind Spots
The height of the driver’s seat and the length of the trailer leave trucks with some large blind spots. These are generally up to 20 feet in front of the tractor, anywhere along the sides of the trailer and up to 200 feet behind the trailer. If you are in these positions, there is a good chance the truck driver won’t be able to see you. Avoid these spots whenever possible.
Large trucks need twice as much stopping distance as a passenger car. For this reason, you should always leave at least four car lengths between the back of your car and any truck you pass. Never cut in front of a truck. If you have to brake suddenly, the truck may not have enough time to stop without hitting you.
No matter how closely you follow the above advice, accidents will still happen. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the number of large trucks and buses in fatal crashes has increased by 26 percent after reaching a historic low in 2009.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) states that the largest factors contributing to truck crashes are vehicle defects and driver fatigue.
According to the IIHS, serious vehicle defects can triple a truck’s crash risk. Vehicle defects contributing to accidents commonly include faulty brakes; fraying tire sidewalls; and burned out headlights, taillights or brake lights.
The IIHS has found that truck drivers who have driven for 12 hours or more without sleeping are 86 percent more likely to crash than drivers who have been awake for less than eight hours. Truck drivers who have driven more than five hours without stopping are more than twice as likely to crash as those who have driven less than five hours. Current regulations allow truckers to drive up to 11 hours a shift and up to 77 hours over seven days. Despite the increased risk, surveys show that many truck drivers regularly exceed these limits.
An accident involving a large truck or 18 wheeler is always severe. The outcome can be life changing or even fatal. If you or a loved one have been the victim of a large truck or 18 wheeler accident, you need the services of an experienced personal injury lawyer.