The number of truck accidents per year has increased by about 20% over the past 20 years. Who or what is to blame for the bulk of these accidents? Surprisingly, the answer isn’t always limited to truck drivers.
While truck drivers and their equipment can’t be let off the hook every time, drivers sharing the road often make dangerous decisions around trucks that can result in bad accidents. What we frequently forget is that truck drivers have very limited visibility, and they need more room to stop than any other vehicle on the road.
Some of the most common mistakes to be aware of include:
- Driving in “No Zones.” No zones (often referred to as blind spots) are the areas where a trucker cannot see you in his or her rear-view mirrors. The main areas to avoid are right beside and directly behind the truck.
- Cutting a Truck Off. If you need to change lanes quickly or are merging onto a highway, the last thing you want to do is cut in front of a truck. Truck drivers cannot simply “hit the brakes” to avoid hitting you.
- Turning in Front of a Truck. Making a left turn directly in front of a truck can also be very dangerous for the same reason; a truck needs a lot of space and time to slow down.
According to a study completed from 2001-2003 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 44% of crashes between a truck and another vehicle (car, SUV, van or pickup truck) were caused by the truck driver, a vehicle malfunction or weather conditions. Eighty-seven percent of those crashes were due to driver error. The most common driver errors cited were not being attentive, driving too fast and falling asleep. While many incidents are due to the negligence of the truck driver, car drivers are often guilty of the same errors.
Ultimately, we need to be aware of trucks and their limitations when we’re driving down the road. Our awareness and avoidance of these common mistakes can help minimize the number of potentially fatal truck accidents.
If you’ve been involved in a accident involving a tractor-trailer, an experienced trucking accident attorney at Gilreath & Associates is available to help you get the care and compensation you need.
Learn more about trucking accidents in our related article: Common Causes of Truck Accidents.