Unlike traditional auto accidents, trucking accidents have a unique set of circumstances and risks associated with them. Commercial big rig/tractor trailer drivers are required to follow strict regulations when it comes to their driving. In addition to training qualified drivers, companies are governed by hundreds of regulations that ensure legal compliance. The federal body that oversees regulations is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Their extensive rule book covers everything from state compliance to noise regulations and even safety and health regulations for drivers. When one considers that a tractor trailer can weigh over 80,000 lbs., it is easy to see why such measures are in place to ensure the safety of the rest of us that share the roads with these behemoths.
Larger Vehicle, Larger Potential Injuries
Potential injuries are magnified by the sheer size, weight and force associated with the vehicles in question. Even ‘fender-benders’ can result in whiplash, soft-tissue damage, concussions or pinched nerves that require MRIs as well as physical therapy. Sadly, those are usually the best-case-scenarios. It is not uncommon that we witness traumatic brain injuries, paralysis or even death when it comes to a tractor-trailer crash. If you are involved in one of these accidents, its is imperative that you tell your medical provider of any and all issues that are lingering. Often, we see injuries underdiagnosed due to seemingly mild pain on initial visits. Do not diminish these faint signs as these will often escalate to more serious underlying issues that later create a lifetime of pain and rehabilitation.
5 Defensive Driving Tips Around Trucks
While some accidents are unavoidable, it is especially important to be aware of the dangers of sharing the road with trucks. Keep the following things in mind when driving close to tractor trailers:
- Give trucks extra space. Due to their size and weight, it takes a truck significantly longer to brake and come to a complete stop. Give them amble space both if you are in front or following behind a big rig. Consider using another lane if you feel uncomfortable.
- Pass them with extra care. Always pass on the left-hand side and at a reasonable speed. Trucks have much larger blind spots that make it especially difficult for them to see you. The right hand side of the vehicle is particularly challenging. It is never advisable to ride alongside them and at the same speed as this puts you more at risk.
- Beware blowouts. We have all witnessed tire debris when traveling down the highway. Large chunks of this rubber can be especially damaging to your vehicle or even be the catalyst to causing an accident. Be aware of how close you follow trucks to avoid this from happening.
- ‘This Truck makes WIDE turns’. You’ve seen the warning signs, but this is one of the most common causes of accidents. Give trucks plenty of room and time to make their turns. They will often take up multiple lanes and need the extra space to accomplish this task. As we have learned prior, following too close on their right-hand side is both dangerous and unadvisable, especially when you see their indicators on.
- Windy Conditions. Be extra vigilant during inclement weather and along mountain passes. Truck trailers can effectively become sails during windy conditions. This makes them susceptible to being blown over, escalating the potential damage and risk associated with the accident.