As the operator of a motor vehicle, you know there will be times when you have to share the road with large commercial trucks. As nerve-wracking as it may be, there are steps you can take to keep yourself safe.
To start, it's critical to understand the most common causes of car-truck accidents. With this knowledge, you'll have a better idea of what to look for when you're behind the wheel.
- Inadequate training: Trucking companies should provide training on defensive driving, safety and technique. Neglecting to do so means that a trucker may not be ready for the road.
- Unrealistic schedules: Trucking companies want drivers to reach their destination as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, an unrealistic schedule can force a trucker to speed and/or drive too many consecutive hours.
- Drowsy driving: There are federal laws in place mandating that truckers take breaks after so much time on the road. However, this doesn't mean that truckers obey the law at all times.
- Distracted driving: Truckers can fall prey to distractions, just like anyone else. From texting to eating, any distraction greatly increases the risk of an accident.
- Reckless driving: There are many examples of this behavior, such as excessive speeding, illegal passing and failure to use turn signals.
- Driving under the influence: Drugs, prescription medication and alcohol all impair a person's ability to make sound decisions on the road.
You can't control how truck drivers behave, but you can do these things to personally improve your safety:
- Don't drive in a trucker's blind spot
- Never change lanes in front of a truck without signaling and leaving enough space
- Don't drive between two large commercial trucks
- Take extreme caution when merging onto the highway
- If you must pull to the shoulder of the road, leave as much space as possible between your vehicle and traffic
If you're part of a car-truck accident for any reason, your immediate attention should turn to your health and well-being. Move your car to safety (if possible), check yourself for injuries and call 911.
After you receive medical care and better understand your injuries and prognosis, review the police report and your insurance policy. This will lead you to file a claim and take steps to protect your legal rights as a driver.