An estimated three million automobile accidents take place on America’s roadways each year, based on recent reports. Trucks are involved in about 500,000 of those incidents. In many cases, accidents that involve trucks result in far more serious injuries and extensive damages than those that involve only passenger vehicles because of the size and weight of the trucks. At the same time, the loads 18-wheelers are hauling can further complicate matters. With so many truck accidents occurring these days, it’s important to understand their common causes and ways to avoid the dangers.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Several factors can contribute to a truck accident and help determine if you should hire an attorney after being involved in one. As is the case with any type of collision, driver distractions are a major issue. When a driver takes his or her eyes off of the road to fiddle with the radio or answer the phone, it directs his or her attention away from what’s going on around the truck. It only takes a second or two for circumstances to take a turn for the worse, and any brief distraction could cause a driver to miss certain important details. That’s only one factor to consider, though.
- Speed. Speed is also a major player in a significant portion of trucking accidents. After all, 18-wheelers can’t stop as quickly as passenger vehicles because of their size and weight. Sudden braking could cause their loads to shift forward as well, making stopping in a short distance even more difficult.
- Driver Fatigue. Commercial drivers are held to strict regulations when it comes to taking breaks and allowing themselves to recharge. Still, some are forced to find ways to circumvent those rules to an extent. As such, driver fatigue is a leading cause of truck accidents.
- Mechanical Failure. Any number of things can go wrong with 18-wheelers because they have so many mechanical and electrical parts and other components. In some cases, those mechanical failures happen when truck owners overlook routine maintenance. Other times, they’re caused by substandard mechanic work or manufacturing errors.
Those are a few of the common causes of truck accidents. Many other issues could come into play as well, such as improperly maintained roads, inclement weather, and unexpected health problems. Keep in mind, though, that not all truck accidents are the fault of truck drivers. Other drivers can take a number of steps to keep themselves safe on the roads and avoid being involved in accidents with 18-wheelers.
Quite a few people are uncomfortable driving too close to an 18-wheeler because of the unnerving, boxed-in feeling doing so can cause. As it happens, avoiding driving too close to a truck is the safest way to go. Stay back an appropriate amount of space if you’re following a truck, and try to avoid staying beside the truck on the highway if possible.
Be Mindful of Blind Spots
Commercial trucks tend to have more blind spots than passenger vehicles. If you’re driving in those blind spots, the truck driver may not know you’re there. Remember, if you can’t see the driver in the truck’s mirrors, he or she probably can’t see you.
If you need to pass an 18-wheeler, do so carefully. Try to pass on the left side of the truck because it’s easier for the driver to see you on the left than on the right. Only merge back into the truck’s lane when you can clearly see the cab of the truck and its driver in your rearview mirror.
Staying Safe on the Road
Almost all accidents are avoidable. Having said that, you can’t always control what other people do when they’re behind the wheel of a vehicle. Exercise caution anytime you’re driving, but be especially mindful of the challenges truck drivers face. Doing so could save your life as well as the lives of others.