Road Safety: How Big Rigs and Small Cars Share Safety Responsibilities

Compared to an average car accident, crashes involving large commercial trucks are more likely to result in serious injuries or fatalities – it’s a simple matter of size differentials. Still, while trucks may have the size advantage in this equation, truckers and private motorists share responsibility for road safety. Just as truckers need to be aware of the unique risks their jobs present, particularly when it comes to driving long hours, the average driver also needs to know more about how to safely drive in the vicinity of trucks. In these accidents, fault doesn’t always rest with the trucker, as a closer analysis makes clear.

Beware Blind Spots

One common cause of truck-involved accidents is the vehicle’s blind spots. Truck blind spots are large, extending as far 20 to 30 feet behind and around the cab, and while this means that truckers need to be careful when changing lanes to prevent trucking accidents, it also means that drivers need to be aware and not linger in these areas. Pass quickly if you must maneuver around a truck and otherwise steer clear of these blind spots, which are also referred to as “no-zones” because you shouldn’t be driving in them. Truckers need to be given a wide berth for everyone’s safety.

Fighting Fatigue

Another common type of trucking accident, and one in which the fault tends to land squarely on truck drivers and their companies, are those accidents caused by driver fatigue. Many truckers operate under tight deadlines and even a little bit of traffic can throw off their schedule, forcing them to drive for longer hours and under more stressful conditions. Sleep deprivation is also more common among those who sleep in their trucks, rather than in formal accommodations like a hotel.

To prevent fatigue-related accidents, truckers must be sure to follow federal regulations regarding how long they’re allowed to be on the road in a given period. By law, drivers can’t be on the road longer than 11 hours a day or 70 hours a week. Once drivers hit the 70-hour limit, they’re also required to take a 34-hour rest period. These laws exist both for the driver’s safety and for the safety of everyone around them on the road.

Maintenance, Roads, And More

Finally, there are a significant number of truck-involved accidents that can’t be attributed to either the trucker’s behavior or that of another motorist. These include accidents caused by lack of maintenance to the vehicle, as well as poor road conditions. Trucking companies can improve maintenance practices by adopting a proactive planning program that schedules vehicle downtime and can actually predict potential problems using past data.

As for road conditions, icy, rocky, or pitted roads can cause trucks to jackknife, overturn, or skid, all of which can be dangerous to truckers and those around them. Local road maintenance authorities must be vigilant about road conditions to prevent these types of accidents.

We all share in the responsibility for preventing truck-involved accidents, especially as accident fatalities continue to rise. Every time someone turns a key in the ignition and sets out on the road, they need to be ready to address whatever challenges come their way, driving proactively and with an awareness of everyone else on the road. All of our lives depend on it.

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