Understand the Dangers Associated with Semi Trucks and Stay Safe While Sharing the Roads

by Tim O’Hare

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Accidents involving commercial trucks are often some of the most damaging and dangerous accidents on the roads. A commercial semi truck can weigh as much as 80,000 lbs. Most passenger vehicles weigh no more than 3,000 lbs. The weight of a tractor-trailer or semi truck makes these large vehicles difficult to maneuver in tight situations where quick movements or lane changes are necessary. Their size also makes it impossible to come to a sudden stop. The size of a semi truck alone can explain why accidents involving semis and passenger car can be so horrific.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 450,000 accidents involving large trucks occur every year in the U.S. At least 5,000 motorists die every year as a result of an accident involving a semi and approximately 140,000 people are seriously injured in large truck accidents each year. Of those killed, 74 percent are occupants of a passenger car, while only 16 percent are occupants of the truck.

In addition to the existing dangers that come with truck driving, many truck drivers are forced to drive for too long, when they are tired, distracted and less aware. In order for trucking companies to make money, they must make deliveries all across the country as efficiently as possible. At times, this could mean requiring the driver to miss out on breaks and rest stops. Tired or distracted truck drivers can make our roads and highways significantly more dangerous.

While many car accidents are unavoidable, here are a few steps you can take as a driver to protect yourself and your passengers from an accident that could lead to serious injury or death. Keep yourself and your family safe by following these driving guidelines regarding large trucks.

Treat trucks differently than other cars. Due to their size, it is nearly impossible for semi trucks to come to a sudden stop. Avoid cutting off a semi in traffic or putting yourself in a situation where you may have to suddenly stop in front of a semi. The size of an 18-wheeler also makes it difficult for the truck driver to change lanes. Avoid driving directly next to a large truck for a long time.

Stay visible. Driving next to a semi or directly behind one can make it very difficult for the truck driver to see you. Do not follow too closely or stay directly next to an 18-wheeler. A general rule is that if you cannot see the truck’s side mirrors, the driver cannot see you.

Do not stop on the side of the road. If you have to stop your vehicle for some reason, avoid stopping on the shoulder of the road. Truck drivers may not see you stopped until it is too late. If you must stop, try to pull completely off of the road, either into the grass or onto a side road. If you do stop on the side of the road, do not stay in your car. Get out and move away from traffic.

The best advice for keeping yourself safe on the road with large trucks is to drive with caution, knowing the added difficulty large truck drivers face when coming to sudden stops, changing lanes or adverse weather.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a trucking accident, contact The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare and ask to speak with Tim O’Hare. Call us today at 972-960-0000, or toll-free at 1-888-960-0020.