Truck Accidents: What You Can Do to Stay Safe
Foggy conditions contributed to a multi-vehicle collision that happened recently in Lubbock County. The poor visibility made it difficult for a semi-truck driver to see a prior accident up ahead. Consequently, the semi driver had to slam on the brakes, causing the truck to jackknife and narrowly miss several law enforcement officers who were attending to the other accident, then pinning a driver in a nearby vehicle.
Thankfully, no one was killed in the collision, but the accident could have been much worse. The above accident shows just how dangerous large trucks can be. Because of their size and mechanics, they are extremely dangerous in an accident.
Unfortunately, the number of large truck accidents has steadily increased in the past several years, as have the number of related fatalities. As a driver, stay safe on the road. But you can’t control what other people do, and when a truck driver hurts you in an accident, you’ll want a truck accident lawyer to help you recover compensation.
Why Do Truck Accidents Occur?
Driving next to a big rig truck can wrack your nerves. We’ve all heard the horror stories, and most of us do our best to keep our distance. But many things can contribute to an accident. Knowing why these accidents happen is the first step toward avoiding them. Common causes of truck accidents include:
Speeding is a problem for all drivers, but it can be catastrophic when truckers do it. That’s because large trucks require more room to stop and take longer to do so. And yet, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 21 percent of truck drivers involved in a fatal truck accident had at least one prior speeding ticket. So, why do truckers speed? There are many reasons. Some of it comes down to simple complacency. Truckers work long hours and they can fall into a routine. Another reason is workplace deadlines and demands. Large trucks transport more than 70 percent of all goods in America. Suppliers and employers put demands on drivers to meet deadlines.
Since the advent of mobile devices, distracted driving has been an increasing problem on the road. And truck drivers are not immune. Because of their long hours and tight deadlines, drivers may use their phones to keep in contact with family, listen to music, or navigate to their destination. They may need to eat in the truck as well. But these distractions can come at a cost. It only takes a few seconds for a truck to drift into another lane and collide with another vehicle.
Large trucks require regular maintenance. Just like passenger vehicles, failure to keep up with maintenance can cause the truck or one of its parts to fail. While federal guidelines regulate truck inspections, they don’t always happen when they should. In some cases, a mechanical defect may lead to an accident.
Common mechanical issues include:
- Steering problems;
- Tire blowouts;
- Tire problems; and
- Damaged tie-down devices.
How to Prevent Truck Accidents
It may seem like truck accidents are out of your control. In some cases they are. But recognizing potential issues and staying alert can help prevent an accident. Here are some tips:
- Drive smart: You can’t treat trucks like other vehicles on the road. They aren’t capable of reacting the same way a smaller vehicle can. Do not tailgate a truck, drive too closely in front of one, or slam on your brakes when a truck is behind you. Do not pass when a truck is turning.
- Practice defensive driving: No matter what vehicles are around you on the road, you need to pay attention to what is going on around you. Be prepared to stop and have an escape route. If you see a truck drifting into your lane, fall back. If the driver is speeding, do not attempt to get them to slow down. Move over and let them pass. Report dangerous driving.
- Be patient: Large trucks take longer to turn, longer to stop, and longer to go uphill. It’s never a good idea to be impatient around a large truck. Be careful when you try to pass and don’t try to pull in front of a truck.
Staying Safe in the Event of an Accident
You can’t prevent all accidents. But you can reduce your chances of injury. Accidents can happen when you least expect them, so protect yourself, no matter how short your drive is. You can reduce your chance of serious injury by:
- Buckling up: According to the NHTSA, seat belts reduce your chance of fatal injuries by up to 45 percent. Always buckle up and make sure all occupants are wearing their seat belts.
- Watching how you sit: How you sit can make a big difference in the event of an accident. Always sit straight in your seat. If you are a passenger, don’t slouch or put your feet on the dash. Make sure you properly adjust your headrest. The headrest should be positioned midway up your head. Lastly, be mindful of your seat position. Sitting too close to the steering wheel can cause serious injuries or death if the airbags deploy.
- Getting off the road: After an accident, move your vehicle and yourself off the road. Staying on the road can cause a secondary accident. You want to watch where you pull over. Large trucks can make it difficult for other drivers to see you. Do not park or stand directly in front of or behind the truck.
- Seeking immediate medical treatment: Any time you are in an accident, you need to see a doctor. Even if you feel fine. Serious injuries like traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries can take days before symptoms appear.
Get the Help You Deserve
Truck accidents are serious. It’s important to respect trucks on the road and take steps to stay safe. If you have been in a truck accident, you may be eligible for financial compensation. An experienced personal injury attorney can help connect you with local health care professionals and help you build a case. If you need help or have questions, contact a truck accident attorney.