Driving is an inherently dangerous activity. But driving around commercial trucks is especially dangerous because they are far bigger and heavier than passenger cars. Large trucks are also more likely to be involved in a multiple-vehicle accident than a single-vehicle accident.
Why are truck accidents such a problem – and what can be done to address it?
Commercial trucks make up around 14% of all registered vehicles on the road. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were more than 5,000 fatal crashes involving large trucks and buses in 2018 – which represents a 45% increase compared to 2009. During this same time period, the number of injury crashes involving trucks increased by more than 200% – from 60,000 to 121,000.
These are the three most common driver-related factors linked to causing truck accidents – which may pertain to either the truck driver or the driver of another vehicle:
- Distraction or inattention
- Impairment – which may include fatigue, alcohol, drugs or illness
Using caution is important when driving near big rigs. It can be difficult to prevent a crash after a mistake has been made since these larger vehicles need more time to transition when accelerating or braking. A truck driver may be unable to slow down in time to avoid a collision if a vehicle quickly changes lanes in front of a truck or forgets to signal.
What you can do
Having an understanding of a large truck’s capabilities can help motorists engage in safe behavior. Be aware of where blind spots commonly exist for trucks. Be sure to give big rigs room when they are passing or turning. Large trucks take a moment to accelerate but can travel fast, so be extra careful when passing, turning left in front of an oncoming truck or moving in front of a truck from the roadside.
What would happen if I got into a truck accident today?
Some motorists may act incorrectly when driving near large trucks, but the actions of truck drivers can also cause wrecks. If a truck driver is distracted or otherwise negligent and causes a crash, you may be able to file a mini tort claim to seek compensation for medical bills and other losses associated with the accident. In addition to naming the driver as a defendant, in some cases the driver’s employer may also be held responsible under the principle of vicarious liability.