When passenger cars and semi-trucks collide, the injuries sustained by those in the smaller vehicle are often devastating. Many are life-changing, and some are fatal. Truck drivers and other motorists who understand the most common causes of truck accidents and take the right steps to share the road safely can help prevent these accidents.
What are the common causes of truck accidents?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) does not track the cause of trucking accidents on a regular basis. FMCSA, however, has conducted studies to look at the reasons for serious crashes in the past. It found the following to be some of the most common reasons accidents occur:
Speeding, or Traveling Too Fast for Conditions
When you are piloting a vehicle weighing up to 80,000 pounds, you have to account for the time it takes to maneuver and come to a complete stop. Truck drivers who speed put themselves and other motorists in danger. In the rain or snow, stopping such a heavy load takes even longer. By speeding or driving too fast for the current weather, truckers can cause rear-end/override accidents, sideswipe other cars, or even lose control of their rig.
Making Unsafe Lane Changes
Truck drivers are often in a hurry. Many fail to properly check their blind spots, use turn signals, or follow other safety protocol for lane changes. This leads to serious accidents when the trucker fails to see a vehicle in an adjacent lane. Truckers must always check their blind spots properly, and use turn signals before changing lanes.
Federal law strictly prohibits driving under the influence of any drug — legal or otherwise — that would slow your reaction time, hinder decision making skills, or cause drowsiness.
Still, impaired driving is a common cause of truck crashes. Truckers — and all motorists — must be aware of all potential side effects of prescription and over the counter drugs, and avoid alcohol or illicit drugs while behind the wheel.
Federal and state hours of service laws outline how long truckers can drive without rest. They must keep detailed logs to show when they took breaks, how long they slept, and how many hours they spent on the road.
However, trucking companies often set tight deadlines and expect drivers to make deliveries quickly. This pressure often leads to skipping rest periods. In other cases, drivers take medications or have health conditions that cause drowsiness. By getting plenty of sleep and never driving drowsy, truckers can prevent these crashes.
Driving a truck can be boring, but it is paramount that truckers keep their focus on the road ahead and the traffic around them. Cell phones and other similar devices offer messaging, videos, and apps to pass the time, but even a second’s distraction can cause a devastating accident.
Lacking the Proper Experience or Training
Especially when it comes to unpredictable weather or unfamiliar roads, a lack of training and experience can cause truckers to make mistakes or not take necessary precautions. This can be deadly.
What can motorists do to prevent truck accidents?
Commercial truck drivers certainly make mistakes and cause accidents on Anchorage highways, but many car versus truck accidents occur because of something the motorist did. To prevent an accident, drivers of passenger cars can:
Stay Out of Blind Spots
Trucks have huge blind spots on either side, in front, and in back. You can help prevent blind spot crashes by not driving directly in front of a truck, not following closely behind a truck, and avoiding staying on either side of the cab for an extended time.
One of the best things you can do to avoid a car accident is to be predictable. Do not make any last minute decisions or sudden maneuvers when you share the road with trucks.
Pass them only on the left side, and maintain a consistent speed while you pass. Pass them and give them plenty of room in front before moving back into their lane. Never pass a truck on the right, either on the highway or while making a right turn.
Give Trucks Plenty of Room
Semi-trucks are susceptible to blowouts, turnovers, and issues in high winds. These and other unpredictable events can lead to accidents. If you are near the truck when this happens, you are likely to get involved. Give tractor trailers plenty of room on either side, and leave yourself time to stop in case of an emergency.
Do Not Expect the Truck to Stop
Most truck drivers will do their best to avoid a crash, but some motorists make this difficult. Trucks cannot stop as quickly or maneuver as easily as a passenger car. Never assume a truck can slow down when you make a left turn in front of it, and be aware of any approaching trucks when merging into highway traffic.
Never Drive Distracted
Put down your cell phone and focus on the road. Eating, talking to passengers, or even adjusting the radio can also distract you from the road ahead. You must stay focused to stay safe and avoid an accident.
What if I suffered injuries or lost a loved one in an Anchorage truck accident?
Anchorage truck accidents often lead to injuries that require ongoing care, or even cause premature death. When a truck driver or other motorist causes the accident, you may be eligible to file for compensation to cover your medical bills and other losses. If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a truck accident in Anchorage, AK, contact our office today.
The Anchorage truck accident attorneys at Kelley & Canterbury L.L.C. are ready to go to work for you: 907-276-8185.