We’ve all felt that tinge of anxiety driving on the freeway, when you’re suddenly squeezed between two semi-trucks on either side. As most drivers are usually in much smaller vehicles, they can easily feel threatened by the size of the 18-wheelers sharing the road. But are they more dangerous than other cars when it comes to sharing the road?
Truck Accident Statistics
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are nearly 450,000 truck accidents in the United States every year. Of the at least 5,000 drivers killed in these crashes, 74% are drivers of the passenger car rather than the truck. Many of the trucks you see on the road are traveling long distances and possibly driving for multiple days, often resulting in serious fatigue and stress for long-haul truck drivers.
Trucks vs. Cars
Southern California is largely impacted by these kind of fatal truck accidents, as the Interstate 5 freeway is a common haul for truck drivers on the west coast. San Bernardino truck accident attorneys note that size has a significant impact how dangerous truck accidents can be in comparison to traditional vehicle crashes. Commercial trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when transporting goods. The average passenger vehicle weighs about 3,400 pounds. When cars and trucks collide, the car always suffers more damage.
Most semi-trucks have added stoppage time as a result of the added weight. This is why they often have longer following distances between cars. Many long-haul trucks also carry flammable liquids or hazardous materials, making them much more dangerous in the event of a collision.
How to Protect Yourself
It’s inevitable to share the road with semi-trucks on your daily commute, however there are a few ways to protect yourself from a potential crash. As trucks pose different dangers than traditional cars, there are different precautions of which to be aware.
Treat Trucks Differently
When driving around a semi-truck, be extra cautious to give them room around their vehicle. The weight of trucks makes them move slower on the road, and they may have different speed limit laws based on each state. Avoid cutting off semi-trucks or engaging in distracted driving around them – it will take trucks longer to react and put your safety at risk.
Stay Visible on the Road
Most trucks have stickers on the back warning you of wide turns, or slow stopping, or the driver’s ability to see you behind them. A general rule of thumb is if you can’t see the driver’s side mirrors, they cannot see you. Avoid driving alongside a semi-truck for too long, in the event they make a sudden lane change and you are cruising in their blind spot.
Pull Over Safely
If you need to pull over onto the side of the road for any reason, aim to stop completely off the road rather than in the shoulder. Many drivers may not see you, causing an accident with your stalled car. If you must stop in the shoulder, do everything you can to make your car visible including using your hazard lights.