As a rule, professional tractor-trailer drivers are among the safest on the road, but as in any profession, there are always a few renegades tossed in the mix.
Understand that an accident with a tractor-trailer is statistically more likely to be a fatality than a crash with a passenger vehicle, and be mindful of what truckers could be doing on the road in order to keep themselves safe. If one of your loved ones died due to a truck drivers negligence, you may be entitled to financial compensation from a wrongful death case.
According to statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute, in 2016, almost 4,000 people were killed in large truck crashes, 66 percent of them the occupants of cars or other passenger vehicles. Because tractor-trailers are so much bigger than passenger vehicles, the data should come as no real surprise. (Ref. 1)
That’s why it’s important to be vigilant on the road, to keep yourself save from unsafe, reckless semi drivers who are hazards barreling down the interstate, putting you and your family at risk of injury or death.
What’s Going on in That Truck?
Some of the most unsafe moves a trucker can make, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, include:
- Text Messaging. Texting while driving in banned by those operating a commercial motor vehicle, but that doesn’t mean drivers don’t do it. Texting causes more accidents than driving under the influence because it disrupts visual, physical and mental cognition, creating an opportunity for accidents.
- Using cell phones. Cell phone usage – unless the driver is using a hands-free system like Bluetooth – is also banned, but that doesn’t stop all drivers from following the rules and saving the phone calls for the rest stops.
- Truck Driver Speeding. Truck drivers are so notorious for speeding, and speeding is such a risk factor on the road, that many trucking companies and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration support the inclusion of speed regulators in trucks to prevent drivers from traveling too fast.
- Reckless and distracted driving. Reckless driving means a driver was operating his vehicle improperly, whether weaving in and out of traffic or experiencing a bout of road rage.
- Failure to obey traffic signals. Stop signs, red lights, railroad crossings, yield signs and speed limit changes are all in place to keep traffic regulated and everyone on the road safe. Running a red light (or pushing a yellow light to its limit), failure to yield and other violations all make truck drivers more dangerous on the road.
- Tailgating. Just as a truck driver finds it unsafe for a vehicle to tailgate him or her, because it puts that vehicle in a blind spot, following too close can make a driver feel as though they are in a scene from the classic movie “Duel.” According to the blog abouttruckdriving.com (Ref. 1), there are four reasons why a truck might be tailgating you: Either you’re going too slow, which can put a truck driver behind schedule (and impact his or her paycheck); you’re speed is fluctuating in such a way that the truck can’t help but be all up in your business, especially if it is carrying a heavy load; the truck is preparing to pass you, and the closer he or she is to your vehicle, the less distance he or she has to travel before returning to the desired lane; or the trucker is a chronic tailgater, who is among those who gives truck drivers a bad reputation on the road.
- Improper lane changes. A truck driver can easily cause an accident if he or she makes an improper lane change, or fails to signal a lane change.
- Improper turns. A truck driver that turns in front of you can create a deadly accident in seconds.
- Failure to yield the right of way.
- Unlawful parking. Tractor-trailers are large and can easily create blind spots when parked illegally near intersections, create the potential for car accidents or car-pedestrian accidents.
Stay Safe Behind the Wheel and Avoid Truck Accidents
While it is impossible to prevent all accidents and injury, you can keep yourself and your loved ones safer while sharing the road with tractor-trailers by following some standard safety tips.
- Be alert. Knowing that big rig drivers may have been on the road well past the point of safety means that it is up to you to be mindful of what trucks are doing. Leave plenty of distance, pass semis quickly and be aware of other traffic around you, including cars that may swerve in and out of traffic, creating havoc ahead of a potentially drowsy trucker.
- Be defensive at intersections. Stop signs and red lights are often missed by distracted drivers, who can strike your vehicle without warning. Watch carefully as you approach each intersection in an effort to protect yourself from drivers who are not paying attention.
- Don’t use your phone. It is just as dangerous for you to use your cell phone for calls and texts as it is for a semi driver. Put your electronics away until you stop for gas or stretch your legs at a rest stop to resist the temptation of using them without a hands-free device.