How to Avoid a Truck Accident
Each day, millions of drivers take to the nation’s highways and roadways to commute to work, drive to the store, or embark on a family vacation. These drivers often find themselves sharing the road with commercial truck drivers. Aside from contributing to increased traffic and congestion, commercial truck drivers also increase the risk of truck-related accidents. Truck-related accidents are different from regular car accidents.
First, truck-related accidents are more likely to cause serious bodily injury and, on occasion, death. Due to their weight and size, trucks can cause astronomical damage to smaller vehicles like sedans, as well as their passengers. The average truck accident causes severe injuries such as spinal injuries, paralysis, traumatic brain injuries, burns and scars, amputations, internal bleeding and organ damage, broken bones, and more.
Second, both truck drivers and their employers can be sued for compensation. The truck driver carries a special license known as a CDL, as well as insurance. Many truck drivers are represented by local and national unions that handle negligence-related litigation. In addition, truck companies may also be sued under vicarious liability, which is a theory of negligence that permits victims to sue employers when the employees act negligently while on-the-job. Truck companies also hold insurance, though many companies try to skirt insurance requirements by carrying only the bare minimum mandated coverage.
Third, truck drivers are more experienced at driving than the average passenger vehicle driver. Truck drivers drive for a living, many working up to 70 hours a week on the road. Truck drivers must past stringent background checks, written tests, and driving tests before obtaining a CDL. In addition, truck companies are mandated by federal laws to train drivers and require test runs prior to equipping drivers with routes.
Each year, over 200,000 truck accidents occur that result in injuries to the passenger vehicle occupants. While most truck accidents are completely unexpected and cannot be prevented or avoided, I implore drivers to utilize the following tips to maximize their safety while in their cars.
1. Defensive driving, not aggressive driving. Many drivers grow frustrated with heavy traffic and slow semi-trucks and attempt to bypass the trucks by speeding and driving aggressively. Aggressive driving is one of the most common causes of accidents. If you are injured after driving aggressively, you may be precluded from bringing a claim against the other driver even if the other driver hit you first. It is imperative that you instead practice defensive driving. Defensive driving puts you in control by encouraging you to drive slowly and cautiously in order to avoid the careless and aggressive driving of others.
2. Maintain visibility. One of the leading causes of truck accidents is visibility issues for truck drivers. If you are in the truck’s blind spot, the driver cannot see you and will not know your car is there. The driver may try to change lanes or brake, resulting in a collision. To know if you are in a truck’s blind spot, try to see if you can spot the driver’s face in the truck’s side mirror. If you cannot see the driver, he cannot see you.
3. Do not cut off a truck. You may want to bypass a truck or avoid traffic, but suddenly switching lanes and cutting off a truck is extremely dangerous. Due to their large size and weight, trucks require additional time to slow down and come to a complete stop. If traffic unexpectedly slows or halts immediately following your lane change, the truck may be unable to brake in time to avoid colliding with you. If you wish to pass a truck, always use your turning signals.
4. Drive slowly. Especially in poor weather conditions! You may have full confidence in your driving abilities at high rates of speed, but many truck drivers are exhausted, under the influence or simply trying to keep their truck on the road during a bad storm. When you are speeding, you will be unable to react quickly enough should the truck driver violate a traffic law or otherwise drive carelessly.
5. Use the left lanes. Everyone knows that the left lane on a highway is for passing and for cars that want to drive faster. You may notice that most trucks congregate in the right lane and drive at a slower speed than other traffic. If you are in a passenger vehicle, drive in the left lane to avoid the trucks.
Since 1982, I, Charles H. Thronson, Attorney at Law, have focused my practice in personal injury law, and chairing the Personal Injury Section of the law firm of Parsons Behle & Latimer. Over the past three decades, I have helped victims of truck accidents obtain multi-million dollar settlements and jury verdicts, and I will only charge you if he is able to recover compensation on your behalf. To speak with an attorney you can trust, my office today at (800) 856-5417 or send me an e-mail at CThronson@parsonsbehle.com to schedule a free consultation.