Crashes involving big rig trucks can be devastating and are happening with greater frequency in Alabama. Interstate commerce needs have put more tractor trailers on our nation’s roads, and they are being driven further than ever thanks to a critical driver shortage.
Because of the violence surrounding a crash involving a large commercial truck, many of these accidents involve very serious injuries and often result in loss of life. One of the best ways to stay safe on the road is to have a better understanding of the dangers of these big rigs and know how to best avoid accidents with large commercial trucks.
The Dangers of 18-Wheelers
There are roughly half a million accidents involving big rigs on our nation’s roads each year. The maximum weight for one of these vehicles is 80,000 pounds of gross weight, which is over 15 times heavier than the average passenger car. When accidents happen, they are often due to truck driver error. Some of the most common mistakes that lead to these devastating crashes include:
- Substance abuse. Somewhere between one third and one-half of large truck drivers involved in accidents also use some type of drugs. These can impair decision-making and reflexes.
- Driver fatigue. Another truck driver impairment and cause of accidents is the extreme fatigue that comes with working and driving too many hours.
- Blind spot errors. When truck drivers are fatigued, impaired, or distracted, they may lose track of vehicles in their blind spots, which could lead to a serious crash.
- Speeding is extremely dangerous in any vehicle but can have tragic consequences when a commercial truck exceeds the speed limit. Speeding trucks can cause rollover accidents, jackknife accidents, and multicar crashes that result in severe injuries or death.
How to Avoid Accidents With Big Rig Trucks
Passenger car drivers may need to operate their vehicles more defensively around large trucks. Since a truck’s visibility and stopping time may be diminished, a passenger car driver maintains the most control over their vehicle. While this doesn’t mean that you would shoulder the responsibility for a crash, keeping yourself and your passengers safe should be a priority. Some of the things that you can do to avoid one of these dangerous truck accidents include:
- Keep a safe distance. Many big rigs have signs and stickers warning of their limited visibility. Take these seriously. As a general rule, you should try to stay as much as four car lengths behind a truck and avoid changing lanes right in front of them.
- Know the “no” zones. That limited visibility that trucks have is because of their blind spots that are referred to as “No Zones”. When driving near these massive vehicles, stay out of these blind spot areas, which are on all four sides of the vehicle.
- Pass big rigs safely. Use extreme caution when you pass a big rig. If you are on a two-way road, it’s going to take much longer to pass a truck than another car, and your visibility could be limited for part of the time. Always pass on the left side, use a turn signal to announce your intentions, and wait until you are six or more car lengths ahead of the truck to re-enter the lane.
- Give trucks space to turn. Big rigs require a significant amount of space to turn, and you risk being trapped or causing an accident if you creep up on their right side. Always use extra caution around intersections.
- Report unsafe operation. If you ever witness a truck driving erratically, operating too fast for conditions, or driving with an unsafe load, pull over and report it to the authorities. You may end preventing a serious crash.
Speak with an Experienced Alabama Truck Accident Lawyer
Most big rig truck crashes are avoidable. While they aren’t all the fault of the truck driver, many are. If you have been injured or lost a loved one in one of these tragic accidents, the experienced Alabama truck accident attorneys at McPhillips Shinbaum, LLP, will investigate your claim and work diligently to protect your rights.
Our Alabama personal injury attorneys aggressively advocate for the rights of accident victims throughout the state. We will investigate the circumstances of your accident and pursue damages from the parties responsible for your losses. Contact our office now at 334.262.1911 or reach out to us online to discuss your case.