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Semi-Truck Accidents: Prevention and Next Steps
Semi-truck accidents are generally more catastrophic because of the vehicle’s size, speed, and cargo. In 2020 alone, 4,842 large trucks were involved in a fatal crash. While this is a slight decrease from semi-truck crash fatalities in 2019, historically these accidents have been on the rise in Florida.
In just one year, transportation reports indicate that large trucks accounted for:
- Nine percent of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes
- Four percent of all registered vehicles
- Ten percent of total vehicle miles traveled
We believe all drivers should be safe on the road, but sadly accidents happen every day. When your family is involved in a collision with a semi-truck, it’s like our family was. At the office of Mickey Keenan, P.A., we treat you like family and will fight the truck’s insurance company as such. Our personal injury specialists work to help make you whole again with the settlement you truly deserve.
That said, with the tips shared in this article we hope to prevent as many of these severe accidents as possible. Keep reading to see how you can protect yourself when driving in Florida.
How Drivers Can Prevent Truck Accidents
Do your part: It’s always best practice to be a defensive driver. Stop with the distractions, make sure you are well-rested and stick to the speed limit.
Here are a few additional tips that will help you drive safer around semi-trucks:
1. Avoid truck blind spots – If you cannot see the truck driver’s face in the side mirrors, the truck driver cannot see you. Trucks have a more prominent blind spot on the passenger side, so it’s safest to pass on the left side.
2. Allow more space – Because of their size, semi-trucks decrease your visibility of hazardous conditions like slowed traffic, emergency vehicles, construction, etc.
Leaving a truck-length of space between you and the semi in front of you allows more time to react to the truck making a sudden stop or swerve.
3. Pass quickly and safely – Because trucks are much heavier than passenger cars, they need more distance to stop. So don’t ever cut trucks off when passing; only pass when you can leave adequate space.
Don’t linger in the passing lane. Trucks have frequent tire blowouts and tend to have rollover accidents. Always use your turn signals to alert truck drivers.
4. Use extreme caution when pulling over – Should you need to pull off a highway in between exits, find a wide shoulder or a designated pull-off spot.
It is safest if you can exit your car and safely walk far away. It’s best not to pull over on highways, as many vehicles or pedestrians can get sideswiped by a passing truck that swerves a bit onto the shoulder.
5. Be cautious of trucks turning – Trucks require more clearance than passenger cars to turn. And the truck driver has less visibility. When approaching an intersection, always leave more room than you think is necessary to avoid being clipped by a semi-truck.
6. Be aware of extreme weather – Winds can cause semi-trucks to drift into adjacent lanes or even to tip over. Dark clouds and heavy rains decrease visibility for all drivers, so it’s important to leave extra space around trucks when severe weather hits.
Better yet, it’s best to avoid driving on highways during storms until the weather is clear.
7. Don’t’ drive distracted – Driving on highways can be long and monotonous. So, taking regular breaks every few hours is essential to avoid fatigue. To prevent boredom, listen to engaging music, podcasts, etc. Remember to pull over before you get to the point of drowsiness.
Additionally, pull over if you need to eat, grab something behind you, read something, etc. It only takes a split second of distraction to create a deadly error.
In a collision, semi-truck drivers typically suffer lesser injuries than passenger car drivers due to the size of their vehicle. You must be careful as you share the roads with them for the safety of everyone traveling with you.
How Truckers Can Avoid Accidents
It’s a big responsibility to drive semi-trucks. And we completely understand it’s a tough job. Unfortunately, workplace accidents – in this case on the road – can sadly cause death or severe, life-altering injuries for others.
Truck drivers: to prevent truck accidents, here are a few tips to keep in mind as you head out to make your deliveries.
1. Plan ahead – As a truck driver, you routinely drive to new destinations. It’s important to know the roads and their underpasses (and clearance) as well as entrances, exits, and geography. Research the route before you go. Better yet, contact your customer to see if any tricky roads, special conditions, etc., will affect your driving and delivery.
2. Know your truck – In addition to having a valid CDL, you need to be highly familiar with the type of truck you’re driving, proper maintenance, and how to know if something has gone wrong. Brake failure, steering issues, blown tires, and broken cargo restraints can cause tragedy on the road.
And know what you’re hauling – you could have hazardous materials that can cause a minor accident to become a much more serious one.
3. Don’t speed – The speed limit is… the LIMIT! And as a semi-truck driver, you should be going well under the speed limit due to the extra time it takes to stop and due to the lessened visibility that both you and the other drivers have. Plus, conditions like severe weather or low light mean you should drive even slower.
While getting your cargo to your destination quickly is part of the job, no one benefits from reckless driving.
4. Get ample sleep – There are strict rules on how many hours you can spend behind the wheel. In addition, there are regulations on the number of breaks you must take and the hours you need to sleep.
Driving drowsy is extremely dangerous, especially as a semi-truck driver. And never drive under the influence of drugs. Stimulants can cause erratic and unsafe driving, and you’re more likely to fall asleep after they wear off.
5. Keep your focus – Like all drivers, you must avoid distracted driving. Don’t use your phone for any reason when you are driving. Plan any music, podcast, radio show, or other entertainment before you begin driving so you’re not searching for anything while behind the wheel. Stop at truck stops to make any changes or to eat so you can focus on the road and other Florida drivers.
If You’ve Been in a Truck Accident, Call an Injury Lawyer
While the above tips can help you avoid an accident, sometimes you just can’t prevent one. If you’ve been involved in a semi-truck accident, the legal considerations can be tricky to navigate. That’s why you need an experienced personal injury team like Mickey Keenan, P.A. on your side.
Our attorneys help clients receive the best compensation while getting their health and life back on track. We promise to fight for you as if you were our own family. We care for you, and you only pay if we win. Contact us today at 813- 871-1300 for a consultation.