All traffic accidents that occur on the highway can be deadly, but accidents involving large trucks and buses are particularly dangerous. This isn't because all commercial truck drivers are bad at what they do, but because when a hulking 10,000-pound big rig and a 3,000-pound passenger vehicle collide, there are bound to be disastrous consequences.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 342,000 large commercial trucks were involved in traffic crashes in 2013, resulting in approximately 95,000 injuries and 3,964 fatalities. Unfortunately, in many accidents involving large trucks, it is the driver of the passenger vehicle who is at fault, rather than the commercial driver. This is largely due to many motorists not understanding the handling limitations of these massive commercial vehicles. Making an effort to understand how handling a large truck differs from handling a passenger vehicle, as well as employing some smart safety tips, can not only help motorists become better, safer drivers, it may also help them avoid injury and even death.
What Are Truck “No-Zones”?
Understanding a commercial truck's “no-zones” is the first—and most important—step that drivers can take to avoid being involved in a serious accident with an 18-wheeler. These “no-zones” are large blind spots in which a truck driver has severely limited visibility and, oftentimes, smaller vehicles can completely disappear from view. Staying out of these zones completely—or limiting your time in a “no-zone” if you can't avoid driving there—is absolutely essential. There are four main “no-zones,” including the:
- Front “No-Zone” – Drivers of commercial vehicles have a restricted view of what's directly in front of them, due to the vehicle's elevated cab. To stay out of this “no-zone,” make sure to stay several car lengths in front of a large truck.
- Rear “No-Zone” – Most large commercial vehicles lack rear-view mirrors, making it next to impossible for drivers to see smaller passenger vehicles driving directly behind them. For safety's sake, stay a few car lengths behind the truck's trailer so that the commercial driver can see you in his side mirror.
- Left-Side “No-Zone” – The “no-zones” on the sides of a large truck are particularly dangerous. On most commercial vehicles, the left-side “no-zone” extends from the side mirrors to the front of the trailer.
- Right-Side “No-Zone” – The “no-zone” on the right, passenger side of the vehicle is arguably the most dangerous. It starts at the side mirrors and continues along the length of the trailer.
Additional Truck Accident Prevention Tips
The following safety tips may also help motorists avoid a serious accident with a large truck:
- Leave four to six car lengths of space between you and large trucks in inclement weather.
- Always make sure you can see a truck's side mirrors; if you can't see the side mirrors, it's likely that the driver can't see you.
- Never pass a commercial truck on the right when it is making a right-hand turn.
- Avoid cutting in front of large trucks, as it takes much longer for them to stop.
- Make sure the truck's entire cab is in your review-mirror before pulling in front of it while passing.
- Always watch for a truck's turn signal before attempting to pass.
Were You Injured in a Truck Accident?
Even the best drivers employing the smartest defensive driving safety tips can't prevent all truck accidents. If you were injured in an accident with a large truck or bus, you may be entitled to seek compensation for damages, such as present and future medical bills related to the accident, damage to your vehicle, lost wages if your injuries and the associated recovery time cause you to miss work, loss of earning potential if your injuries force you into a lower-paying position, and even physical or emotional pain and suffering.
Don't suffer in silence or just assume that you have to shoulder the burden of these unexpected medical expenses on your own. Contact the seasoned personal injury attorneys with Packard Law Firm today for a no-cost, no-obligation case evaluation or to request a free copy of the book, 20 Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Car Wreck Case. The personal injury professionals in our San Antonio office are eager to answer your questions and help you fight for any financial award you may deserve.