If you've ever driven next to a large commercial truck, you're likely familiar with the uneasiness such an experience can inspire. This anxiety is not necessarily misplaced, either. Due mainly to the sheer size and weight of tractor-trailers and semis, fatal collisions between a smaller automobile and a larger commercial vehicle often result in the death of the driver or passengers in the car, but not the truck. In fact, fatal crashes between small personal vehicles and trucks claim the lives of car occupants in 80 percent of such accidents.
Even more upsetting, over 200,000 such collisions occur in the United States every year, and, perhaps contrary to common assumptions, most of these accidents happen during the day and in clear weather. So how, exactly, do these fatal crashes keep happening, and is there anything you can do to decrease the risks for you and your family?
Truck collision prevention tips
According to reports by law enforcement officials, the cause of almost two-thirds of all fatal accidents between smaller cars and larger commercial trucks was an error in judgment or a traffic mistake on the part of the driver of the car, and not, as many believe, of the truck driver. However, the last thing anyone wants you to be while driving is nervous and stressed; instead, the best way to keep yourself and your passengers safe while driving near trucks is to stay calm and concentrate on accident prevention by:
- Watching out for blind spots
- Maintaining a safe distance of at least four-seconds when following a truck
- Remembering that passing a truck is different from passing a regular vehicle
- Never trying to squeeze your vehicle into the space created by a turning truck
- Avoiding positioning your car between two or more commercial trucks when traveling on the highway
The biggest difference between regular automobiles and trucks is their numerous blind spots; if you can't see the truck drivers, even in mirrors, they can't see you. Additionally, the size of trucks means not only do they take longer to come to a stop or drift backwards when stopped, but they also take longer to pass, so it's safest to keep a consistent speed while passing and make sure you're able to see the entire front of the truck in your mirror before you pull back into the lane.
The size of trucks also affects their maneuverability, so it's best to avoid attempting to squeeze into the space that is created when a semi or tractor-trailer begins making a turn, because -- horrifyingly enough -- as the turn progresses, the truck may end up driving overtop your vehicle. Similarly, on highways, when you're between two trucks, you'll likely find yourself in one or more of their blind spots, meaning that you could easily become trapped between the two if one decides to change lanes.
While it's true that the operators of smaller personal vehicles contribute directly to 60 percent of all fatal truck collisions, this still means a whopping 40 percent are due to truck driver error. Unfortunately, no matter how careful you are to employ safe driving techniques around tractor-trailers and semis on New Mexico highways, you can't always prevent an accident.
In such tragic cases, if you or your loved ones suffer serious injuries or worse in a truck collision, make sure you talk to our experienced Los Lunas attorneys. We can provide ongoing legal support and guidance to help you fight to hold the responsible parties accountable.