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Safety Is Key When Sharing the Road with Big Rigs

Fortunately, the closest most Alabama drivers get to a tractor-trailer crash might be when we drive past one on the road. But even at just that glimpse, we don’t miss a scene usually so mangled, twisted and crushed. We just hope it isn’t tragic, too – but too many are. Sharing road with trucks

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, commercial trucks account for more than 400,000 accidents a year, with nearly 80,000 of those crashes rear-end collisions.

Common reasons for these accidents include:

  • Driver fatigue – The National Transportation Safety Board reports that lack of rest could be responsible for as many as 40 percent of all tractor-trailer accidents.
  • Speeding – Truck drivers can be under serious pressure to get to their destinations within tight deadlines. Losing control of large vehicles at high rates of speed prove deadly.
  • Drug and alcohol abuse – The use of prescription drugs and alcohol is dangerous for anyone behind the wheel, but even more so for truckers.
  • Weight and loading issues – The industry has specific regulations about weight limits and loading protocols. Tractor-trailers that are over- or improperly loaded could be more at risk for jack knifing, tire blowouts, rollovers and brake failures
  • Faulty brakes – Whether a commercial vehicle is loaded properly or not, bad brakes are one of the leading causes of rear-end crashes with them.

The FMCSA says trucks involved in rear-end crashes are twice as likely as other vehicles to have brakes that fail due to defects or poor adjustment. Under state and federal regulations, truck drivers and companies are responsible for ensuring that brakes on their tractors and trailers are in proper order.

Respect These Rule to Remember

When sharing the road with tractor-trailers, you need to be careful, considering that, in a collision with a 10,000- to 80,000-pound vehicle, the odds are not in your favor. As should be the case whenever you are at the wheel, be alert and obey the rules of the road.

  • Beware of trucks’ “blind spots,’’ places which cannot be seen in the vehicle’s mirrors. Tractor trailers, due to their size, have much larger blind spots than a normal truck or car.
  • Stay at least four car-lengths behind or ahead of a big truck. When passing, assume that if you cannot see the driver in the truck’s side mirror, the driver can’t see you, either.
  • Don’t travel beside a tractor-trailer, and never drive between two of them.
  • Always yield to tractor-trailers. Stay behind them, or pass quickly, but be prudent and take extra care.
  • Due to their size and weight, tractor-trailers are much less maneuverable than other vehicles. It takes them longer to stop, to get up to cruising speed, and to slow down. Also, they make wide turns and have a more difficult time changing lanes.
  • Do give the right-of way to tractor-trailers, whether that means moving over as they come up behind you, dropping back as they change lanes, or waiting a few extra seconds at a light so that one can complete a turn.

If you’ve been injured in a tractor-trailer wreck, you need an experienced and determined attorney on your side. Don’t hesitate; contact Dean Waite & Associates today.

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