According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, there were approximately 475,000 police-reported accidents with large trucks in 2016. More than 100,000 of these accidents resulted in injuries, and almost 4,000 were fatal. In 83% of the fatal crashes, the victims are drivers and passengers of other vehicles, and not the occupants of the large trucks.
The data regarding fatalities in accidents with big rigs is not all that surprising. Common sense tells us that when an ordinary passenger vehicle crashes with a large commercial truck, most of the time, those driving and riding in the car are going to take the brunt of it. While some trucking accidents are unavoidable, most could be prevented. To avoid these types of accidents, motorists need to take extra precautions when driving near large trucks.
Here are five ways to avoid an accident with a big rig:
- Give Large Trucks Plenty of Space
18-wheelers and other large trucks need room to maneuver on the roadways. If you drive too close to them, you are at risk of several things that could go wrong. These include sudden braking, tire blowouts, truck rollovers due to high winds, and your vehicle being struck by cargo flying out of the back of a truck. Never tailgate a big rig truck (or any other vehicle for that matter), and always give a large truck plenty of distance. This goes double when there are adverse driving conditions such as heavy rain, wind, ice, etc.
- Stay Out of Blind Spots
Every vehicle has a blind spot, and nearly a million motor vehicle accidents a year result from drivers failing to see another vehicle that enters their blind spot. The dangers are greater for big rig trucks, because they have multiple blind spots. For this reason, it is very important for drivers to spend as little time as possible in an 18-wheeler’s blind spot. Going back to the previous point, give the truck plenty of space. Secondly, only drive alongside a truck long enough to pass them. If there is no opportunity to pass, slow down and give them the room they need.
- Be Careful Merging into Traffic with a Large Truck
Merging into traffic can be very tricky, especially when traffic is heavy and slow. If you are trying to merge into traffic with a truck in the lane next to you, make sure you have plenty of distance between the truck and the next vehicle. If you try to pull in front of a truck then have to slow down quickly, it can be difficult for the truck to brake quickly and adjust. Also, if the truck is passing you while merging, make sure to slow down and get out of his blind spot as quickly as possible.
- Lower your High Beems when Driving Near a Truck after Dark
Most people understand that, when you are driving after dark, you need to turn your brights off when approaching oncoming traffic. You should also have your brights turned off when you are driving behind a vehicle going in the same direction. This is especially true if you are behind a large truck at night. Bright headlights may reflect off the truck driver’s large sideview mirrors, blinding them and putting them in danger of a catastrophic accident.
- Avoid Distractions
Distracted driving is causing more motor vehicle accidents these days than ever before. Motorists have always had distractions (e.g., the radio, eating and drinking while driving, vehicle passengers, talking on their phone, etc.), but texting, checking emails, and doing other things on electronic devices while driving adds a whole new level of danger. If at all possible, stay off your phone entirely while driving. If you must talk on the phone, have it in “hands free” mode. And whether you are driving near an 18-wheeler truck or any other vehicle, there is never a good time to send texts while driving. Wait until your vehicle is fully parked before you respond to text messages or emails.
Speak with an Experienced Alabama Truck Accidents Lawyer
Even if you follow all the best practices for safe defensive driving, you could still end up in an accident with a big rig truck. This could happen because of truck driver negligence, poorly maintained trucks, faulty vehicle parts, and other factors. If you or a loved one was injured or killed in an 18-wheeler accident, you may have a right to compensation.
At Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce & Thompson LLP, we have in-depth experience representing clients in trucking accidents in Alabama. These types of cases can get quite complicated, and there may be multiple parties at fault. We thoroughly investigate the incident to get to the bottom of what happened, so we can ensure that our clients receive full compensation and that those responsible are held accountable. Call us today at (334) 821-3892 or send us a message through our web contact form for a free consultation and case evaluation.