The statistics for crash fatalities involving cars and trucks are startling. One in ten of all highway deaths are related to big trucks, and the number of auto accident injuries as a result of these is equally impactful. While that number is a minority in overall car crash deaths when trucks are involved in an accident, almost 70% of fatalities are passenger vehicle occupants and another 15% are bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians.
The factors involved in truck accidents are well-known, but still important to keep in mind:
- Trucks weigh 20 to 30 times more than passenger vehicles. The lighter weight vehicle always sustains more damage, including more severe auto accident injuries to occupants.
- Trucks need 20 to 40 percent more distance to stop traveling at the same speed as a car. Due to the increased weight, stopping distance is longer.
- Trucks have more blind spots, also called No Zones, than cars that automobile drivers are not aware of, often placing themselves in dangerous situations. These include directly in front of the truck, directly behind, and along either side.
Along with these facts, a passenger car driver should keep in mind the following about trucks and truck accidents so they are better prepared to avoid one in the future.
Follow the Basics
You can avoid the most typical scenarios that cause crashes between cars and trucks by keeping in mind a few simple, effective driving strategies:
- Take the distance between vehicles seriously. When behind a truck, do not follow too closely since your entire car can be lost in a blind spot. As a rule of thumb, if you can’t see the truck’s side mirrors, the truck driver can’t see your car.
- When merging into the lane in front of a truck, leave enough space between you and the truck in case the truck needs to brake as you merge. The recommended rule is one second of space for every 10 ft. in truck length. Usually, this is 4 seconds between you and the truck, or 5 seconds if speed is above 40 mph. Yes, it’s that big a distance!
- If a truck is passing on your left, slow down to help it pass you. At this time, you are momentarily in the truck’s side blind spot and need to get out of it as soon as possible.
- When a truck needs to merge in front of you in your lane, give it enough distance to finish the move. A helpful tip is to flash your headlights when the truck has enough room.
More Truck-Related Car Fatalities Happen on Surface Roads
Trailer trucks need about a 60-foot turning radius on surface roads – almost twice that of cars. Over half of passenger car fatalities occur on surface roads and not highways while a truck is trying to turn. Anticipate this space needed by letting the truck take a turn without attempting to pass it.
Trucks need to take wide right turns to avoid hitting the curb. Often, this turn means the truck has to veer left (sometimes into the oncoming lane) to make the turn without incident.
- Trying to pass the truck on the right before it turns, puts your car in a dangerous blind spot for the truck. Since the truck is in motion, it might not be able to stop in time if car drivers misinterpret their ability to pass a heavy, moving truck.
- Trying to pass a truck on the left as it turns right puts your car in a blind spot for both the turning truck and oncoming traffic. Oncoming traffic cannot see your vehicle until it emerges from behind the truck into the oncoming lane.
If you or someone you know has been involved in a truck accident, contact a truck accident lawyer. The Rothenberg Law Firm LLP has been advocating on behalf of personal injury clients for over 48 years and can be your truck accident lawyer when you’re looking for professional and experienced representation.