The old story of David and Goliath plays out daily on the nation’s highways, except for the ending. The statistics from 2012 revealed one out of every eight traffic fatalities involved a large truck. Motor vehicle drivers and passengers made up 73% of those deaths, with another 73% injured. Such numbers do not surprise, given the difference in size and weight of the vehicles.
A February 2013 report does reveal a surprise, however. It notes that passenger car drivers were at fault 75% of the time!
Most of the identified causes disclose that drivers of passenger cars either did not think about a large truck’s road capabilities or were unaware of them.
Drivers need to understand trucks need space, a lot of it. They need space to turn, time to slow down and space to stop. Trucks take 30 to 40% more feet to stop than cars. Based on studies of truck accidents, passenger cars often failed to allow enough space for a truck to maneuver successfully.
For safer driving, follow these five safety guidelines:
1. Avoid being in the right lane next to a truck. This includes passing on the right or while stopped at an intersection. Although cars correctly use the right lane as the proper turning lane, a truck needs a much wider space to turn. Don’t make the truck driver have to choose between hitting you or oncoming traffic.
2. When passing a large truck, anticipate enough acceleration to get all the way past and then some. Leave plenty of room before returning to the right lane.
3. Often trucks carry a sign that says, “If you can’t see my mirror, I can’t see you.” Driving in this “no-zone” area contributes to many truck/car accidents. For one thing, it’s too close to the vehicle ahead. Just as a car driver needs to see what is behind him, so does the truck driver.
4. During bad weather such as high winds or driving rain, leave extra space behind and ahead of a truck. Do the same for sharp curves.
5. When entering a highway via ramp, be sure to judge the speed of an oncoming truck for enough acceleration to enter ahead or better yet, slow to wait until he passes.
No matter who or what causes car/truck accidents, most of the time they can be avoided. If you have experienced a truck accident or need legal advice, contact us. In the meantime, please drive safely.