The 4 Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents
If you’re a truck driver, a day on the road is just another day in the office. It’s what you do to pay the bills and support your family.
Unfortunately, you’re in a risky industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, transportation incidents remained the most frequent fatal work injury in 2017, with truck and tractor drivers claiming the most fatalities of any occupational group.
That doesn’t mean you should be caught in an accident. Here are the four most common causes of truck accidents and what you can do to drive safe, no matter how long the route.
Truck drivers make mistakes on the road, just like any other driver. This is especially true of drivers who have already been on the road for quite a while.
Unfortunately, truck drivers have more responsibility on the road than other drivers thanks to their vehicles.
This responsibility has a lot to do with awareness of the road. About 71% of truck accidents are actually caused by car drivers, not truck drivers.
So, not only are you responsible for your truck, you’re responsible for watching the cars around you. Remember, you know the dimensions of your truck and how it operates—other drivers don’t.
What You Can Do
As a truck driver, the single best thing you can do on the road is drive defensively.
In other words, you should drive under the assumption that other drivers are going to do unsafe things and prepare accordingly. If you drive with caution, under the assumption that other drivers will be reckless, you’ll be aware and ready to handle it if someone is actually reckless.
This includes things like being patient with slow drivers, using your turn signals, always driving the speed limit, and keeping a safe distance from other vehicles.
Remember, physics isn’t on your side. Your truck is much more difficult to stop and turn than a car. Excess caution can make the difference between a safe drive and an accident.
Another major culprit in trucking accidents? Blind spots, a.k.a. no man’s land.
Large trucks have significantly larger blind spots than a car or SUV. The problem is that most car drivers don’t know that.
There are three major blind spots on most 18-wheelers:
- Directly in front of the truck, due to the height of the cab and vantage point of the driver
- On either side of the cab, which can encompass several lanes of traffic
- Directly behind the truck, due to the length and height of the vehicle
Add in the fact that your truck is a large, heavy object moving at high speeds (i.e. it can’t slow down and stop quickly) and you have a recipe for disaster.
What You Can Do
As a truck driver, you know where your blind spots are. Other drivers don’t. So, it’s on you to drive responsibly.
When you’re on the road, you should always be conscious of your blind spots and try to be aware of cars in the traffic lanes around you. Don’t tailgate cars, and try to keep a healthy distance between your truck and other cars, especially when you’re trying to change lanes.
Size and Weight
Huge semis are a risk on the road for any number of reasons. Some of them are avoidable.
But there’s no way to get around the sheer size and weight of a truck and the risk it poses to other vehicles.
Commercial motor vehicles can weigh up to 40 tons. That’s 80,000 pounds of vehicle weight. The maximum width is 102.36 inches, with a height of 13 to 14 feet and a minimum length of 48 feet. Car and boat transports are even longer.
In a collision, physics is almost always on the truck’s side. The average passenger car doesn’t stand a chance.
Add in the potential property damage that 80,000 pounds can cause at high speeds (not even accounting for the damage the cargo could cause), and you have a recipe for a giant, dangerous mess.
What You Can Do
Once again, as a truck driver, defensive driving is the best thing you can do to stay safe.
You can’t eliminate the potential dangers that come with driving a vehicle of this size. What you can do is take every precaution to avoid disasters on the road.
For example, turning to merge onto a highway. The posted speed limit is intended for the average passenger car, not a semi. If you go the posted speed limit on a turn, the weight and length of your truck creates a real danger of a rollover.
Instead, drive below the speed limit and get up to speed once you merge.
When driving, you should also make sure to slow down early—much earlier than you would in a car. A car is lighter and more compact than a semi, which makes it easier to reduce speed. A truck doesn’t have that advantage.
Most of the risks we’ve discussed thus far have to do with the truck itself. But the cargo you carry can be just as dangerous.
There are a variety of industry rules that truck drivers and cargo teams have to follow when loading a commercial truck. There are weight, height, size, and length limits to a load, in addition to rules about how the cargo is secured.
Negligence at any stage of this process could cause cargo to fall off on the road, creating catastrophe for anyone driving nearby.
What You Can Do
Today, there are many different technologies available that allow trucking companies to avoid accidents before they occur, such as telematics, sensors, and real-time monitoring of driving conditions and driver behavior.
However, the single best thing you can do to stop cargo-related accidents is to follow industry rules. Keep an eye out for negligence and always double-check to make sure that cargo is loaded safely. If something is wrong, don’t get on the road until the cargo is reloaded correctly.
If You’re Facing the Consequences of Truck Accidents
Sometimes, every possible precaution isn’t enough to prevent truck accidents. When that happens, you need the best Michigan truck accident lawyer you can find.
You’ve come to the right place.
Our experienced attorneys know that time is of the essence, and they’re ready to fight for you. If you need to speak with an attorney about your case, get in touch today for your free consultation.