Semi-truck are ubiquitous on the roadways. But many drivers know very little about the trucks, driving safely around trucks, the trucking industry, or the rules governing trucks. If more people were aware of the special issues related to these vehicles, it may help prevent some accidents.
Facts about the Trucking Industry and Truck Accidents
Trucks move approximately two-thirds of the freight in the U.S. annually, according to American Trucking Associations. Annually, about 9.2 billion tons of freight is moved by semi-trucks. The industry took in $603.9 billion in gross revenue in 2011.
While a semi-truck can weigh as much as 80,000 lbs when fully loaded, passenger vehicles weigh significantly less at around 4,000 pounds. This weight differential makes any collision between a truck and car potentially life threatening, especially to the car driver.
In 2012, 33,561 people were killed in accidents with semi-trucks while approximately 2,362,000 were injured nationwide. These figures come from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Some common causes of truck accidents include:
- brake failure;
- driver fatigue;
- poor driver training;
- overloaded trucks;
- right-of-way violations;
- driving under the influence;
- mechanical failures; and
- defective parts.
Truck Driving Facts: They Have Extremely Large Blind Spots
The general rule is that if you cannot see the truck’s mirrors, the truck driver cannot see you. There are large blind spots:
- behind the driver’s shoulder;
- at a 45-degree angle from the passenger side mirror;
- directly behind the truck;
- directly in front of the vehicle; and
- to the front right of the truck.
Truck Driving Facts: It Takes Trucks Longer to Stop
Recognizing the longer stopping distances for semi-trucks is another very important fact about truck driving that other drivers should know. So do not cut in front of a truck even if you believe it would be enough time for another passenger vehicle to stop.
Some truck drivers might reason that it’s better to run a light than to slam on the brakes, potentially harming many people around them if the truck jackknifes. So watch for oncoming trucks before proceeding through an intersection.
Truck Driving Facts: They Take Wide Turns
Trucks may veer into the immediate left lane before making a right turn. Other drivers shouldn’t pass the truck on the left or right when its making a wide turn because the truck might collide with the vehicle. Trucks also tend to make slow turns in order to prevent tipping over and damaging their cargo.
Truck Driving Facts: High Winds Can Be Dangerous
A strong wind might push the truck’s trailer into adjacent lanes, creating a dangerous situation for nearby drivers. Avoid driving next to a truck for too long. If you’re passing a truck, do not linger next to it where you might also be in a blind spot.
Facts to Know if You Find Yourself in a Truck Accident
Federal regulations govern how long a truck driver can work and drive. For example, drivers can only drive 11 hours straight before being required to take a 10 hour break. They also may not work more than 14 hours before taking a 10 hour break.
In a seven-day week, drivers can drive a maximum of 60 hours, and in an eight-day period, they can only drive 70 hours. If a driver exceeded these limits, the logbook or onboard recording device might be evidence of driver fatigue or negligence.
There are rules governing weight limits as well. The maximum weight a truck can pull is the lesser of either 80,000 lbs or a weight determined by a formula based on the truck’s number of axles. Loads also need to be secured safely according to regulations. Failure to follow these rules might indicate negligence as well.
Any of the following people could be held liable for an accident:
- truck driver;
- trucking company;
- loader; or
- a mechanic.
Truck companies may also be responsible for their drivers’ errors. Gacovino & Lake handles truck accident cases for those seriously injured. You can learn more about your accident and legal options by checking out our free truck accident guide and by setting up a consultation: 800-550-0000.