Semi-truck accidents are some of the most deadly and destructive of all traffic mishaps. Sadly, many truck accidents occur for reasons that could have easily been prevented. Staying safe on our Colorado roadways must be priority to both truck drivers and motorists alike.
How Prevalent are Truck Accidents?
Large trucks and buses are as common on American highways as any other motor vehicle. These vehicles are essential to our economy, transporting millions of tons of freight from coast to coast annually. Unfortunately, large trucks and buses can also pose a significant threat of damage and injury to other motorists due to the large size and heavy weight of these vehicles.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Association’s (“FMSCA”) 2017 Pocket Guide to Large Truck and Bus Statistics, there were 480,000 crashes involved large trucks and buses in 2016. While that is far less than the number of car accidents, crashes involving large trucks and buses can cause substantial damage and serious injuries to occupants due to the massive size of these commercial vehicles.
How Can Drivers Avoid Truck Accidents?
At the outset, drivers should be aware large trucks are far less maneuverable than smaller vehicles. They start moving more slowly and take much longer to stop due to their weight, generally ranging from 12,000 to 80,000 pounds. Fortunately, drivers can take critical measures to safeguard themselves from accidents with large trucks.
According to FMCSA, “large trucks and buses have operating limitations such as large blind spots, long stopping distances, and limited maneuverability that make it essential for other vehicles to put extra focus on safety.” The FMCSA makes the following suggestions for drivers to help reduce the amount of accidents involving large trucks and buses:
- Be aware large commercial vehicles have major blond spots, also now as “No Zones.” These blind spots are located round the front, back, and sides of large commercial vehicles. If a driver cannot see the truck driver’s face in the side mirror, it means the truck driver cannot see the trailing vehicle. One of the best ways to avoid a truck accident, however, is to stay out of the truck’s blind spots.
- When a driver passes a commercial vehicle, it is important to make sure the truck driver can see the passing vehicle in the side mirror before the pass is initiated. It is equally important to get out of the blind spot as quickly and safely as possible.
- Drivers should never pass a truck or bus while going downhill, when it is difficult for them to stop or slow. Also, drivers should never pass a truck or bus on the right.
- Drivers should never cut off a truck or bus, even if the driver is being aggressive or reckless.
- Drivers should not tailgate a truck or bus, no matter how slow they are driving. This places the driver in the “No Zone,” the blind spot. If the truck comes to a sudden stop, the tailing vehicle may slide right under the truck.
- Drivers should remember that trucks made wide turns. If a truck is turning right, drivers should not try to squeeze between the truck and the curb to beat the truck driver to the turn.
How Can Truck Drivers Avoid Accidents?
Many accidents between large trucks and passenger vehicles can be avoided if the truck drivers follow the necessary safety tips. That said, driving an 18-wheeler is completely different from driving a car. Most drivers would not understand that to even start a truck, the operator must reset the gauges and warm up the flow plugs with the first turn-key click. Even then, most people would not know how to shift gears.
When thinking of how long it takes a Colorado resident to obtain a driver’s license, drivers can pin that against the 350 hours required for commercial drivers to get licensed. They must gain knowledge that pertains to similar concepts of all drivers on the road, yet their skill level is unmatched. They need to learn how to make controlled turns, how to stay in their lane or switch, how to deal with traffic, how to navigate city streets, how to reverse a semi, and how to park. Additionally, they must learn how to record their hours spent driving, how to transport hazardous materials safety, and how to operate an air brake.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of things a truck driver can do to help reduce the amount of accidents:
- Truck drivers should always drive defensively
- Truck drivers should always maintain the truck
- Truck drivers should always be aware of the “No Zone”
- Truck drivers should eat well and stay fit to increase alertness
- Truck drivers should get plenty of rest before driving
- Truck drivers should keep their distance
- Truck drivers should reduce speed in work zones
Owner and Managing Attorney
Jerry Bowman, J.D., M.A., Owner and managing attorney of Bowman Law LLC, takes his responsibility to the legal profession seriously and dedicates his time and effort to providing quality and competent legal representation to clients in Denver and throughout all of Colorado. He holds an MA in Political Science from Wayne State University and earned his law degree in two and a half years from Michigan State University College of Law.
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