We all know that accidents involving trucks can be physically devastating to those unfortunate enough to be involved in them. Trucks are bigger and harder to control than ordinary passenger vehicles. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, large trucks generally weight 20 to 30 times as much as passenger vehicles, sometimes due to getting sturdy bed covers installed from or from the factory, and whilst this makes the vehicle stronger and safer for the driver, as a result, 95% of the fatalities in accidents involving a truck and passenger vehicles are to the occupants of the passenger vehicle. The fatal crash rate for large trucks has declined significantly during the past decade, even though the number of miles driven has increased by 36%. Despite these improvements, there are nearly 400,000 crashes involving large trucks in the US each year resulting in approximately 5000 fatalities. Research shows that as many as 70% or 3500 of those fatalities are caused by the actions of other vehicles rather than trucks.

While there are many things truck drivers and trucking companies are doing to reduce the risks a truck poses to the general public, like periodic maintenance such as at Ferguson Truck Center, drug testing drivers, requiring drivers to get a full night’s sleep before a driving shift, mandatory professional driver safety training, and the use of Power Landing Gear with trailers, there are also a few critical things we as passenger vehicle operators need to learn to interact more safely and share the road with the big rigs. Here is a summary of some important safety tips we as passenger vehicle operators can learn to drive more safely while around large trucks.

Stop drinking and driving and stop distracted driving. Approximately 50% of all passanger vehicle fatalities involve drinking and driving or distracted driving. Drinking and driving needs no explanation. Distracted driving involves talking on a cell phone, changing the music channel on the radio and putting on makeup and can cause a momentary yet fatal distraction when driving around large trucks.

A second cause of passenger vehicle fatalities is failing to give a truck adequate room to stop. Large trucks can’t stop as quickly as passenger vehicles. Fully loaded, it takes approximately three times the distance to stop a tractor trailer than it does to stop a passenger vehicle. Truck drivers are trained to stay sufficiently far enough behind another vehicle to safely stop, however cars frequently pass a truck and then cut in front of the truck drastically reducing the distance between the back of the car and the front of the truck. The truck now has to slow down in order to increase the room between the two vehicles to a safe distance.

Getting caught in a right turn squeeze by a large truck making a right hand turn is the third leading cause of passenger vehicle/large truck fatality. When a large truck attempts to make a 90-degree right hand turn it must first drive in the left lane, leaving the right lane empty, so as to give it enough clearance to navigate the right hand curb. Impatient or unaware drivers of passenger vehicles will try to pass the truck on the right by driving in the right lane now in the truck’s blind spot and when the large truck makes the right turn the distance is closed and the passenger vehicle can be crushed under the weight of the trailer. According to truck driver Thomas Lettenberger of Los Altos California: “If somebody comes up on our right side a fatality is almost guaranteed when they get crushed by the truck making the right turn. We need the tracking room of both lanes.”

These are three critical behaviors drivers of passenger vehicles need to be aware of when driving around large trucks. Focus on these, don’t drink and drive, turn off your cell phone, give large trucks plenty of room to make unexpected stops, and beware or large trucks making right hand turns, and we will have gone along way towards reducing truck accident fatalities.

Randy W. Ferguson dedicates more than 75% of his law practice to handling truck accident and commercial vehicle cases. Whether you live in Huntsville or in any other city or state, call us if you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in a tractor trailer accident. Texas Truck Accident Lawyer is a similar service that is worth checking out if you’re in the area. We are here to help. We offer no obligation FREE CONSULTATIONS to all truck accident victims. Call 256-534-3435 or 1-800-752-1998. We are here to help.