Commercial trucking collisions can have a variety of causes, including poor vehicle maintenance, equipment failure, inclement weather, improper cargo loading and others. However, one of the most common causes is driver error.
Driver error can sometimes be caused by the truck driver. A trucker could neglect to use a turn signal, speed or tailgate another vehicle. A trucker could also drive when drowsy, drunk or on drugs.
However, drivers of passenger vehicles actually cause most driver error trucking collisions, not truckers. Any driver can make a mistake. However, many motorists unintentionally cause collisions because they do not understand the operating limitations of trucks.
For example, a truck requires much more roadway than a car to come to a stop. Trucks also have large blind spots on all four sides and must swing wide to safely complete turns. With this information in mind, there are several driving habits you can adopt to minimize your risk of being hit by a truck.
Leave extra space
Leaving extra space between your vehicle and a truck can be a beneficial habit in general, but it can be especially important when merging in front of a truck. A truck driver cannot see vehicles that are located within 20 feet of the front of the truck. Even if a truck driver can see you in front of the truck, he or she may not be able to stop the truck fast enough to avoid colliding with you. Trucks traveling at highway speeds may need at least the length of two football fields to come to a stop. To avoid a collision, put as much space between you and a truck as possible before merging in front of it.
Avoid blind spots
In addition to the blind spot in front, trucks also have blind spots extending 30 feet behind the trailer, one lane on the driver's side and two lanes on the passenger's side. Avoiding these areas can help make sure the truck driver can see you and react appropriately. A good rule of thumb is to regularly check the truck's side mirror. If you cannot see the driver's face in the mirror, he or she probably cannot see you, and you should speed up or slow down slightly to get out of the blind spot.
Expect wide turns
Because trucks are so long, their rear wheels follow a narrower path than the front wheels follow around a curve. To prevent the rear wheels from jumping the curb, a truck driver must swing the cab wide or start a turn from another lane. This can present a hazard to drivers who think they can squeeze next to the turning truck at an intersection. This can be especially dangerous when a vehicle squeezes next to the truck's right side where the largest blind spot exists. However, you can avoid this dangerous situation by anticipating a trucker's need to swing wide and keeping your vehicle behind the truck until after it has completed the turn.
It can be important to practice safe habits when driving near trucks because collisions between trucks and passenger vehicles can severely injure or kill the occupants of the smaller vehicles. However, truck drivers also have a responsibility to practice safe habits. If the reckless actions of a truck driver caused you or a loved one severe injuries, you may be able to receive compensation for your medical expenses and other related costs.