Every year thousands of truckers lose control of their rigs and cause irreparable damage. In 2012 alone, over 100,000 people were severely injured due to truck accidents—70 percent of whom were car passengers and pedestrians. (The remaining 30 percent were drivers or passengers of the trucks which caused the collisions.)
So what’s the deal? Why are trucks so dangerous?
Although poor maintenance and environmental factors are sometimes to blame, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimates that truck drivers are 10 times more likely to cause truck accidents than any other determining factor. Anything from fatigue-induced distractions to simple miscalculations are enough to cause a driver to lose control of his truck. Unfortunately, due to the size and weight of most semis, once control is lost it’s extremely difficult to get it back. This unfortunate span of events can consequently lead to a collision, a rollover, or a multi-car accident.
Although it’s easy to see how a truck can cause an accident, it’s not so easy to stomach the thought of you and your family being caught up in one. Thankfully, despite the risk factors, you can protect yourself and your family from a tragedy by simply knowing how to handle yourself when forced to drive near a truck…whether it shows signs of distress or not.
Safety Tips for Driving Near Trucks
Considering the possible injuries when you suffer a truck accident, it’s extremely important to understand how you can decrease your family’s risks by being able to avoid an accident altogether. The following safety tips win not only help you become a safer driver, but they can also help you avoid the consequences of a trucker’s mistake.
- Put some distance between you: When driving behind a truck—whether you’re in his lane or the passing lane—you should always have at least two car lengths between your front end and the truck’s back end. This will allow room for maneuvering as well as give you the time and distance you need to brake in case of an emergency. If a truck begins to show signs of distress (wobbling, erratic swerving, etc.), you need to increase your distance even more, to six or seven car lengths, in order to increase your safety zone in case of a rollover or jackknife.
- Limit your passes: Trucks are required to go five to ten miles per hour under the posted speed limit; however, this doesn’t necessarily meant that you should pass them. Make sure you judge the situation correctly and that you have enough room to pass safely. If you’re coming up to an on-ramp, refrain from passing until you’ve cleared oncoming traffic; the truck driver may need the room to change lanes and may not see you if you’re passing. If the truck is behaving erratically, do not pass; the trucker may not have control and could swerve or even roll over into the passing lane at any moment. Avoid the truck’s crumple zones (sides and blind spots) at all costs.
- Change lanes: If possible, try to avoid being directly behind or in front of a truck. You never know if it may suddenly brake, speed up, tip, or roll over—especially if it seems to be wobbling or jerking. If it is in the right lane, move into the left while maintaining an adequate distance so you’re not in its path.
When a truck loses control near you…
- Get away from it as soon as possible: As soon as you’re safely able, decrease your speed and get off the highway. You can always get back on later, but if you’re not near the truck, you can’t be harmed.
- Call for help: Once you’re away from the truck and can safely do so, warn the police or traffic control center that there may be a potential truck hazard. Give them the approximate coordinates and a detailed description of how the truck was moving. They will be try to locate the distressed truck and stop it before an accident occurs.
Driving can be an extremely stressful endeavor, but suffering a catastrophic accident can be life-altering. Don’t allow a trucker’s mistake to run over your family’s future. Take the proper precautions to avoid an accident and remember that the Packard Law Firm Family is here to help you get the aid you need.