Driver fatigue is a major factor in truck crashes, with injuries and deaths increasing over the past four years. Every year, over 4,000 people are killed and over 100,000 are injured in truck accidents. (This is equivalent to a major airplane crash every week for a year.) And, these truck crashes cost the American people and our economy $99 billion annually. Almost half of all truck drivers admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel at least once in the previous year, according to a survey. Last month (December 2014), a bill was approved so that truckers no longer have to get two nights sleep in a row before starting a work week. This means that truckers will be allowed to work as many as 82 hours over 8 days – upending what safety advocates said was a key component of a 15-year effort to reduce truck accident deaths caused by drowsy long-haul drivers. We essentially just rolled back common sense protections that formerly protected drivers and everyone else on our nation’s highways.
Safely Co-Existing with Trucks on the Road
Just the sheer size and weight of semis or 18-wheelers and the impact of one can cause serious and often deadly motor vehicle accidents. So what can we do, a driver of a smaller vehicle?
- We “smaller vehicle drivers” should remind ourselves that large trucks and buses function differently than smaller vehicles. In other words, they take a lot longer to slow down. They have much larger blind spots than ordinary vehicles.
- A good rule of thumb is that if you cannot see a truck’s mirrors, then the truck driver cannot likely see you.
- When passing a truck, increase your speed – that way, you don’t stay in a blind spot for long.
- Be aware that trucks often pull out to the left before making a right turn. Pay close attention to a truck’s turn signals. Also, avoid passing a large truck on the right.
- Be extremely cautious when pulling in front of trucks. Due to their heavier weight, it is more difficult for them to break. Give them necessary room around them – especially in wet or icy conditions.
Most of the legal work we do involving semi truck or heavy construction vehicles results in severe physical injuries, if not death – and complex litigation. Be safe.