It pays to be aware of how trucks are driving around you. Truck accidents are notoriously common, and they result in far more damage than comparable car accidents due to the sheer size and destructive potential of the vehicles.
So what are the primary causes of truck accidents and what steps can you take to avoid them?
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
These are some of the most common causes of truck accidents in the United States:
- Distracted driving. Truckers can get distracted like any other driver, and we all know that distracted driving can be fatal. If a truck driver looks down at their cell phone, if they space out and look at a billboard, or even if they’re lost in thought, they may not see some of the changes on the road in front of them, and they may not have enough time to appropriately react. This may cause them to hit another driver, or swerve at the last second to avoid an unforeseen obstacle.
- Fatigued driving. Fatigued driving can be every bit as dangerous as drunk driving, and with truck driving being both tiring and challenging, truck drivers often struggle to deal with fatigue. Truck drivers are expected to put in long hours and drive long distances, sometimes with little break time to give them reprieve. When drivers are tired, both mentally and physically, they’re less capable of driving in a safe and responsible manner.
- Driving under the influence. We like to imagine that all the truck drivers in our country are highly responsible and committed to safety. But there’s a significant population of truck drivers willing to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This represents a small minority of truck drivers, but it’s still significant enough to make driving under the influence a common root cause of truck accidents.
- Reckless or negligent driving. Truck accidents also sometimes result from simple reckless or negligent driving. People driving over the speed limit, those ignoring posted signage, and those behaving in downright dangerous ways are much more likely to be involved in accidents.
- Bad loading practices. It’s also possible for truck accidents to result from bad loading practices, such as overloading the vehicle or failing to secure a load. If the truck isn’t able to carry the load appropriately, it may be more difficult to maneuver or it may introduce new obstacles to the road.
- Insufficient training. One common cause of truck accidents is insufficient training for drivers. It takes hundreds of hours of education and practice to develop the skills necessary to be a safe and efficient commercial vehicle driver. If a truck driver is hired without much experience and no on the job training, they’re not going to be qualified to drive safely.
- Negligent hiring. In line with this, some employers are guilty of negligent hiring practices. They end up hiring truck drivers with long histories of car accidents or reckless driving citations, allowing dangerous drivers on the road.
- Negligent supervision. Truck accidents are also sometimes the byproduct of negligent supervision; a boss or manager could have easily spotted an imperfection and prevented the accident from occurring.
How to Drive Safer Around Trucks
Unless you’re a truck driver capable of improving your own skills and practices, there isn’t much you can do to control the behavior of the truck drivers around you. However, there are some strategies you can use to be safer while driving around trucks.
- Pay attention to your surroundings. Always keep a close eye on your surroundings. Pay attention to where the trucks are on the road and how they’re driving. This should give you plenty of time to respond if one of the trucks makes an unpredicted move.
- Increase following distance. Increase your following distance. Giving yourself more distance between your car and the truck in front of you will give you more time to react if they decide to slam on the brakes or take a wide turn. In fact, this is a good safety practice for all vehicles.
- Watch for mirrors. You may have seen stickers that say something like “if you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you.” For the most part, this is true. Always make sure that your vehicle is visible to the truck drivers in front of you and around you. Avoid traveling in truck blind spots for too long.
- Avoid problematic drivers. If you notice there’s a truck driver, or any other driver on the road, driving erratically or unpredictably, get out of their way or pull over and let them pass you. There’s no reason to keep yourself in a dangerous situation with unpredictable drivers.
If you do find yourself in a truck accident, remain calm and get to safety as quickly as possible. From there, it’s important to file a police report and contact emergency services if anyone is injured. Once you’ve taken care of all your immediate responsibilities, including taking photos of the accident, make sure you talk to a truck accident lawyer about compensation.