Due to the sheer size and weight of trucks, accidents involving them can be particularly dangerous. Although numerous regulations exist to ensure truck drivers operate their vehicles safely, frequent disregard for these guidelines continues to put motorists in danger. Get the facts on the dangers of truck accidents so you can be informed on the road.
What Causes Truck Accidents?
While truck accidents happen for a variety of reasons, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a study that found common trends.
According to the study, three major types of critical events were assigned to large truck accidents. “Critical events” are defined as “an event or action that put the vehicle on a course that made the collision unavoidable.” They include:
Running out of travel lane, either into another lane or off the road.
Vehicle loss of control due to traveling too fast, cargo shift, vehicle systems failure, road conditions, etc.
Colliding with the rear end of another vehicle in the truck’s lane.
The study also found trends in critical reasons that contributed to accidents. “Critical reasons” are defined as “the immediate reason for the critical event,” and include:
Driver was driving too fast for conditions, misjudged the speed of other vehicles, or followed other vehicles too closely.
Driver was inattentive or distracted.
Driver fell asleep or became suddenly disabled or impaired.
What Makes Truck Accidents So Dangerous?
Because trucks typically weigh 20-30 times more than a traditional passenger vehicle, they can cause extensive damage to cars and their occupants. Due to their weight, trucks also require 20-40% farther than cars to come to a complete stop, making it difficult for truck drivers to stop quickly should a sudden change in road or traffic conditions occur.
Unfortunately, occupants in passenger cars are typically those who suffer the most in truck accidents. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 4,102 people died in large truck crashes in 2017. 17% of those deaths were truck occupants, 68% were car occupants and other passenger vehicles, and 14% were pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorists.
When truck accidents happen, they often cause catastrophic injuries to those in passenger cars. In addition to physical injuries like spinal cord damage and traumatic brain injury, victims frequently have to cope with long-lasting psychological trauma that can put a strain on their relationships with loved ones and make them unable to return to work or earn an income.
Protecting Yourself from Trucks
While truck accidents are sometimes unavoidable, you can still take action to protect yourself on the road by reading up on these safety guidelines provided by the FMCSA:
Stay out of the truck’s blind spots. Trucks have large blind spots. If you cannot see the truck driver in the side view mirror, assume they cannot see you. Slow down or move ahead to stay visible.
Pass safely. Make sure you can see the driver in the vehicle’s mirror before attempting to pass the truck. Make sure the truck is visible in your rear view mirror before merging. Never pass from the right lane.
Keep a safe distance. In addition to the rear of the truck being a blind spot, lingering in this area is dangerous as your vehicle may slide under a truck in a crash. Stay back when stopped and on an upgrade where the truck may roll back.
Anticipate wide turns. Trucks typically have a turning radius of 55 feet. Never try to squeeze by or get between a turning vehicle and the curb.
Injured in a Truck Accident? We Can Help
Unfortunately, even if you follow all of these safety guidelines, truck accidents may still happen. If you have been injured in a truck accident, our Alabama truck accident attorneys are here to help you recover the compensation you deserve. Don’t settle for less; we have real experience and results handling truck cases, and we will fight for you.
Contact Cunningham Bounds, LLC at (251) 299-0101 for a consultation today.