Trucking accidents have been on the rise in recent years. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that more than 4,100 individuals were killed in accidents involving large trucks in 2017, a 30% increase from 2009. And of those who were killed in these types of accidents:
- 68% were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles;
- 17% were large truck occupants;
- 14% were motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
It comes as very little surprise that most of those who are seriously injured or killed in truck accidents are those who collide with big rig trucks. Large tractor-trailers that are fully loaded typically weigh up to 80,000 pounds or more, and the sheer force of colliding with a vehicle this size makes those who share the road with 18-wheelers especially vulnerable to severe injuries and fatalities.
Given the heightened risks motorists face when they are driving near a large commercial truck, it is important for drivers to be proactive and take extra precautions to ensure their safety. Here are five things you should do to help avoid an accident with a semi-truck:
Stay Out of Blind Spots
Big rig trucks have more and larger blind spots than a typical passenger vehicle. 18-wheelers have two blind spots on each side of the vehicle, which are commonly known as “no zones”. If you are in one of these “no zones”, it means the truck driver cannot see you, which could result in an accident if they try to change lanes or make a turn. In general, if you cannot see the driver in his/her rearview mirror, this means he/she probably cannot see you either. Do your best to stay out of truckers’ blind spots for any length of time.
Keep your Distance
A loaded semi-truck requires 20% to 40% more braking distance than a regular vehicle, and this percentage is increased when there are wet and slippery roads or other adverse road conditions. By following a large commercial truck too closely, motorists are much more vulnerable to accidents resulting from sudden stops and slowdowns. Other potential hazards that can result from driving too close to a big rig truck include tire blowouts, brake line failures, and your vehicle being struck by materials or debris falling out of the truck.
Be Careful when Passing or Merging with 18-Wheelers
There are times when you may need to pass up a large truck or merge into traffic when you are driving alongside them. When you pass a truck, always make sure there is plenty of space in front of you to complete this action safely. Be especially careful on two-lane roads and undivided highways where you need to pass the truck using the oncoming traffic lane, or when you are passing a truck while going uphill or downhill. And when you are merging into traffic, again be sure you have enough space if you decide to pull in front of the truck.
Lower your High Beams
Most motorists are aware that they need to turn their brights off when there is a vehicle approaching them from the opposite direction. With large commercial trucks, however, you should also keep your brights off if you are driving behind them at night. Big rig trucks have larger mirrors, and they can be blinded by another vehicle’s high beams.
Texting while driving and similar forms of electronic activity are very dangerous practices that you should never engage in while you are behind the wheel. If you are trying to send a text while driving, for example, it takes your attention completely off of the road. Always avoid distracted driving, and especially when you are driving near a large truck.
Injured in an 18-Wheeler Accident in Alabama? Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer
Sometimes, you do everything right and still end up in an accident with a big rig truck. This can happen because of driver negligence, negligence on the part of the trucking company, a faulty vehicle part, or a combination of these and other factors. Trucking accident cases are complicated because of the numerous laws and regulations that govern the industry, and the fact that there are several potential parties that could be responsible.
If the accident occurred in Alabama, things are further complicated by the state’s defendant-friendly “contributory negligence” legal standard. Under contributory negligence, a plaintiff who is found to be even 1% at fault for an accident can be barred from recovering damages. For this reason, it is absolutely essential to obtain strong legal counsel as early on as possible in the process, so your right to recover compensation is not jeopardized.
At M. Adam Jones & Associates, we have successfully represented countless individuals who have been injured in truck accidents and all other types of motor vehicle accidents in Alabama. We know the common tactics trucking companies and their insurers use to avoid responsibility in these types of cases, and we put our extensive experience to work to aggressively pursue full and fair compensation on behalf of each client we serve.
For a free consultation with one of our skilled personal injury attorneys, call our office today at 334-581-9238, or send us a message through our web contact form.