Many motorists are uneasy driving near large trucks, tractor-trailers and 18-wheelers. Those fears became quite real for drivers on the George Washington Bridge this week when high winds during a storm caused a semi-trailer to overturn, pushing it into the path of oncoming traffic. The upper level of the bridge was closed for a number of hours while crews cleared away debris and cleaned up the diesel fuel which had spilled across the lanes. While luckily no one was injured, the incident serves as a reminder of how dangerous trucks can be.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in the last 10 years, the number of large trucks on the road has grown by 30%, which is much higher than the increased number of passenger cars. Since large trucks and big rigs do not maneuver as easily as a car, drivers of passenger vehicles should be aware of these limitations and take steps to avoid them.
A recent study by the University of Michigan Transportation Institute confirmed cars do not fare well in collisions with a truck. In fact, in deadly crashes involving one car and one truck, 98% of the time the fatality occurs to a person riding in the car. The same study showed that many times the car drivers are the ones whose actions contribute to accidents with trucks.
The common mistakes drivers make and how to avoid them include:
- Not staying in your lane: This accounts for one out of every five deadly crashes. Large blind spots for truck drivers can hide a car drifting into their lane. Once the car becomes visible it is too late for the driver to adjust. Remember, if you can’t see the truck driver in his side mirror, he cannot see your car.
- Failure to yield and obey signs and signals: Trucks do not slow down and stop as easily as cars do. Trying to beat a truck when merging into traffic or traveling through an intersection could be costly. Take a few extra seconds to let the truck go by.
- Not paying attention: Distracted driving is dangerous enough and only becomes more of a hazard when driving near a truck. Something that may seem as innocent as adjusting the radio can cause you to lose sight of what the truck is doing. Try not to stay next to a truck for too long and of course pull over if you need to attend to something in the car.
With more trucks on the road than ever before it is important for drivers to be aware and alert behind the wheel. If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident with a truck or tractor-trailer, contact a knowledgeable and experienced attorney at Finz & Finz, P.C., to stand up for you and help recover the compensation you deserve.