Approximately 500,000 trucking accidents occur per year in the United States, resulting in about 5,000 fatalities.
Trucking accidents are devastating for everyone involved, and avoiding them should be a priority for all drivers. As you share the road with other drivers, you can do your part to reduce the risk of trucking accidents by understanding the common causes and taking precautions to avoid them.
In this blog, our North Texas Truck Accident Attorneys will expand on the five common causes of trucking accidents and how to avoid colliding with a truck.
Driver fatigue is a serious issue in the trucking industry, as it can lead to impaired reaction times, decreased alertness, and poor decision-making ability. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), driver fatigue is a factor in roughly 13% of trucking accidents. As a civilian driver, it’s important to be aware of the signs of driver fatigue and take precautions to avoid colliding with a fatigued truck driver.
One of the most important things you can do to avoid colliding with a fatigued truck driver is to keep a safe distance from the truck. This is particularly important when driving at high speeds or in adverse weather conditions. By keeping a safe distance, you’ll have more time to react if the truck driver makes a sudden maneuver or if you need to change lanes quickly.
If you notice a truck driver swerving or drifting out of their lane, it’s important to give them plenty of space and stay alert to potential hazards. This could be a sign of driver fatigue or other issues, such as distracted driving or a mechanical problem with the truck. If you see a truck driver exhibiting these signs, it’s important to call the authorities and report the issue as soon as possible.
In addition to these precautions, it’s also important to be aware of your own level of fatigue when driving. If you’re feeling tired or drowsy, it’s best to take a break and get some rest before continuing your journey. Driving while fatigued can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and it’s important to take this issue seriously.
Distracted driving is a leading cause of trucking accidents. In 2020 alone, there were 248 distracted truck drivers involved in fatal accidents, resulting in 277 fatalities.
Distracted driving is a significant problem on the roads in general, and it’s crucial to understand the risks involved. Any activity that takes your attention away from driving can be considered distracted driving, and it’s not just limited to using your phone. Eating, drinking, putting on makeup, or even talking to passengers can all be considered distractions.
When it comes to sharing the road with trucks, distracted driving can be especially dangerous. Trucks are larger and heavier than cars, and they require more time and space to stop. If a truck driver needs to stop suddenly, a distracted driver may not have enough time to react, leading to a serious accident.
To avoid colliding with a truck due to distracted driving, it’s essential to stay focused on the road. Avoid using your phone, even if it’s just for a quick text or to check a notification. If you need to use your phone, grab something from another seat or even adjust a setting on the dashboard, pull over to a safe location and complete the task before returning to the road.
Additionally, it’s important to be aware of the actions of other drivers. If you notice a driver who appears to be distracted, give them plenty of space and stay alert to potential hazards. If necessary, slow down and allow the driver to pass before continuing on your route. Generally, you are in a better position to react to or control an adverse situation if you are traveling behind the suspect driver.
Poor visibility is a significant issue for truck drivers and civilian drivers alike. Trucks have larger blind spots than cars, which can make it more difficult for truck drivers to see other vehicles on the road. These blind spots, also known as “no-zones,” are typically located on the sides of the truck, behind the truck, and in front of the truck. It’s essential to avoid driving in these areas, as the truck driver may not be aware of your presence.
To avoid driving in the truck’s blind spots, it’s important to be aware of where they are located. On the sides of the truck, the blind spots extend from the side mirrors to the back of the trailer. If you’re driving next to a truck and can’t see the driver’s face in their mirror, assume that they can’t see you either. In this situation, it’s best to either slow down and stay behind the truck or pass the truck.
Behind the truck, the blind spot extends for a significant distance. If you’re following a truck, make sure to keep a safe distance behind the truck. Good rules of thumb are, at one car length for every ten miles an hour or the distance your vehicle travels in three seconds. This will give you enough space to react to potential hazards, and it will ensure that the truck driver can see you in their mirrors.
In front of the truck, the danger zone extends for several car lengths. If you cut in front of a truck too quickly, the driver may not have enough time to react and stop the vehicle. Always give trucks plenty of space and avoid cutting in front of them or following too closely.
In addition to avoiding the truck’s blind spots, it’s important to be aware of the truck’s turning radius. Trucks require more space to make turns, and they may swing wide to the left before making a right turn. Avoid driving next to a turning truck, as you may get caught in the truck’s path.
Speeding is a major contributing factor to trucking accidents, and it can cause severe injuries and even fatalities. When a truck driver is speeding, they have less time to react to unexpected events and may not be able to stop in time to avoid a collision. In addition, the weight and size of a truck mean that the damage caused by a collision even at low speed is likely to be significant.
It’s crucial to obey the speed limit and adjust your speed to the road conditions to reduce the risk of a trucking accident. When driving in adverse weather, such as heavy rain, snow, or fog, it’s important to slow down and give yourself plenty of time to react to potential hazards. The stopping distance for a truck is much longer than that of a car, and it is more difficult for the truck driver to react to unexpected events.
It’s important to avoid making sudden lane changes or braking abruptly when driving near a truck. Abrupt lane changes or sudden braking can cause a truck driver to have to slam on the brakes, which can be dangerous. When changing lanes, always signal well in advance, and give the truck driver plenty of space to react. When braking, do so gradually and smoothly, and avoid slamming on your brakes.
Failure to Yield
Failure to yield is a common cause of trucking accidents, and it’s important to understand the rules of the road when driving near large trucks. As stated earlier, trucks have a much longer stopping distance than cars, and they require more time and space to maneuver. As a result, it’s crucial to always yield to trucks when necessary and avoid cutting them off or merging too closely.
When merging onto the highway, it’s important to yield to any oncoming traffic, including trucks. This means that you should wait for a safe gap in traffic before merging, rather than forcing your way into the lane. When merging in front of a truck, make sure you leave plenty of space and avoid braking abruptly, as this can cause the truck to have to slam on their brakes, which can be dangerous.
When changing lanes, it’s important to check your mirrors and blind spots before making your move. If you’re planning to move into a lane occupied by a truck, make sure you give them plenty of space and signal your intention well in advance. Avoid cutting off a truck or merging too closely, as this can increase the risk of a collision.
It’s also important to be aware of situations where a truck may have the right of way. For example, if a truck is turning left at an intersection, it may need to swing wide to make the turn. In this case, it’s crucial to give the truck plenty of space and avoid trying to pass on the right.
Hire an Experienced Auto Accident Attorney
In the unfortunate event that you have been injured in a trucking accident, it is essential to seek the guidance of experienced Auto Accident attorneys who can help you recover the compensation you deserve. At The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare, we understand the complexities of trucking accidents and are committed to fighting for our clients’ rights. Our team of attorneys can even refer you to a doctor to ensure that you receive the necessary medical care. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn how we can help you in your pursuit of justice.