Anytime an individual gets into a vehicle, they face the possibility of an accident. Unfortunately an accident with a larger vehicle, such as a semi-truck, has a higher probability of fatalities among passengers and drivers. Knowing what causes accidents among big trucks can help reduce serious injury or death. While some accidents are unavoidable, there are many ways that drivers of both cars and trucks can drive defensively to prevent these types of accidents. Factors to consider include how car drivers can help prevent accidents with trucks, how driving a semi-truck is different from maneuvering a car, what contributes to the likelihood of an accident between a truck and car, and what truck drivers can do to help avoid accidents on the road.
How can Car Drivers Look Out and Help Prevent Accidents with Trucks?
One thing that car drivers need to know is that tractor trailers are far less maneuverable than smaller vehicles. They start more slowly and take a much longer time to stop due to their sheer weight, generally ranging from 12,000 to 80,000 pounds. Drivers can take critical measures to safeguard themselves from accidents with semi-trucks. One of the leading causes of accidents between cars and trucks is the lack of safe distance kept between the two. If you must change lanes in front of a truck, pass one, or drive next to one, note that they have a difficult time braking quickly so caution should be taken. Another factor to consider is the large blind spots and limited visibility that trucks have. Rule of thumb is that if you cannot see the truck driver or his mirrors, he is unable to see you. Additionally, adverse driving conditions affect all vehicles on the road. Speed up or slow down to give the truck more room when there is rain, smoke, snow, or fog. Overall there are many things that are out of your control when driving on the road, mainly other drivers. Do not drive aggressively or attempt unsafe maneuvers around trucks as this can cause accidents that are unavoidable by truck drivers. Frequently, tractor trailers have tire blowouts as well, which can send debris flying into the road. Judge the distance between your vehicle and a truck on the road and drive cautiously to avoid accidents.
How is Driving a Semi-Truck Different than Driving a Car?
Driving an 18-wheeler is a whole different ball game from driving a car. Most would not even understand that to start a truck, the gauges reset and flow plugs warm up with the first turn-key click. Even those who believe they are avid manual transmission shifters may not realize how often truck drivers must shift gears. Car drivers are no match for the mindfulness required when making turns, backing up, and parking a semi-truck. When thinking of how long it took to obtain your driver’s license and the in-class training required, it does not compare to the training programs that truck drivers must go through to obtain their commercial driver’s license. Most training courses equate to over 350 hours over a period of several months, averaging $4,200. Truck drivers must gain knowledge that pertains to similar concepts of all drivers on the road, yet on a massive level. Skills that they learn include how to make controlled turns, how to stay in their lane or switch lanes, how to deal with traffic, navigation of city streets, reversing semis, and parking. Additionally, they must learn how to record their hours spent driving, how to transport hazardous materials safety, and operation of air brakes.
What Contributes to an Increased Likelihood of an Accident?
The most significant cause of car accidents that involve semi-trucks is driver error. This is an all-encompassing category ranging from circumstances that prevent proper judgement, the inability to see potential dangers, or failure to react appropriately. Some examples of driver error are talking on a cell phone, driving too fast for weather conditions, not being aware of blind spots, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It is not uncommon for major accidents to occur during bad road conditions as well. Ice, snow, rain, and high winds are a leading contributor to big-rig accidents due to the loss of control from the height, weight, and length of trucks and their carry loads. As with cars, mechanical failure and damage to truck parts do happen. If the truck is not maintained properly or the equipment is not used in the appropriate manner, it can spell disaster. This can be easily prevented through thorough employee training on the correct use of trucks and early detections of potential problems. The last major factor that leads to an increased likelihood of an accident is incorrect load distribution. If a truck’s load in not secured and positioned properly, the movement and shifts may affect the driver’s ability to control an 18-wheeler.
What can Truck Drivers do to Help Prevent Accidents on the Road?
In today’s age, there are many more safety and security features that can help trucking companies and their respective drivers prevent accidents on the road. Truck companies are required to enforce safe vehicle operation by their employees to avoid potential risks. Most trucks are now equipped with electronic data recorders, similar to that of an airplane black box, that track how many hours a truck has been driven as well as the vehicle operations. Trucks drivers must be aware of how long they have been driving and driving conditions. Failure to do so can cause fatigue and affect the overall safety. Commercial truck drivers are trained on how to prevent conditions that lead to significant or fatal road accidents. They must follow the regulations enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier and pay attention to factors and conditions that may affect their ability to safely maneuver such as massive road entity. Through abiding by established rules and regulations in the trucking industry as well as formalized traffic laws, accidents can be significantly reduced.