Drivers of large trucks are 10 times more likely to be the cause of a car crash than any other factor, including weather, road conditions, or vehicle performance, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Tractor-trailers and other large commercial trucks account for approximately 500,000 vehicle accidents in the US each year. Ten percent of those end with at least one fatality, and in 80 percent of those incidents it is the driver of the car who suffers the life-ending injury. These massive trucks can weigh up to 40 times more than a typical car. At 80,000 pounds, a fully loaded truck traveling at 60 miles per hour can demolish anything else on the road.
There are an estimated two million tractor-trailer trucks on the road nationwide and every year some 123,918 large trucks are involved in crashes. Driver error combined with the following factors is the primary cause of these crashes, according to federal statistics:
• Prescription or illegal drug use affects the truck driver’s reaction time and causes 26 percent of truck-car crashes.
• Speeding or traveling too fast for the road conditions was also a common cause, found in 23 percent of accidents.
• Being lost or unfamiliar with the areas they travel causes 22 percent of wrecks. This is to be expected by the nature of a trucker’s work.
• Over-the-counter drug use by the driver contributes to 18 percent of smash-ups.
• Failure to check blind spots and carefully observe all sides of the truck before making a turn causes 14 percent of car-truck accidents.
• Fatigue is not the top factor causing truck crashes, surprisingly. A driver’s lack of sleep or rest causes 13 percent of accidents.
• Failing to use a turn signal or making some other illegal maneuver causes 9 percent of collisions.
• Distracted driving and driver inattention is a problem for truck drivers. Eight percent of crashes involved drivers whose attention was taken away from the road — including by road work or other accidents.
• Poor evasive action contributed to 7 percent of accidents. Big rigs are difficult to maneuver, and drivers can underestimate the level of evasive action needed.
• Aggressive driving, such as tailgating or weaving, contributes to another 7 percent of deadly crashes.
It’s important for folks, when driving near a big truck, to remember that their rigs have large blind spots. Drivers of vehicles should avoid these “no-go zones” at the rear of the truck, the side, and the connecting point between the truck and the trailer. If a person can’t see the driver in the truck’s side mirrors, the driver can’t see that person either. If you need more information on this subject, contact Chris Glover or Julie Beasley at 800-898-2034 or by email at Chris.Glover@beasleyallen.com or Julie.Beasley@beasleyallen.com.
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