What Steps Can Drivers Take to Avoid Common Commercial Trucking Accident Risks?

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Drivers in Pennsylvania and throughout the United States benefit from a robust, interconnected system of highways, freeways, and local roads. These roads are relatively well-maintained and permit Pennsylvanians and Americans to cover large expanses of distance quickly and efficiently. The convenience provided by these roads allows individuals to live further from their workplace, devote less time to transit and transportation, and engage in a broad array of activities and interests.

However, while highways and roadways are certainly beneficial they are not without their drawbacks. According to the Philadelphia trucking accident attorneys at The Reiff Law Firm, one of the biggest problems that individual drivers can face is the fact that they must share the road with much larger commercial trucks. 

Trucks like dump trucks, 18 wheelers, Mack trucks, straight-trucks, and other large vehicles accelerate and stop more slowly and are less maneuverable than the average passenger vehicle. Furthermore, they are significantly larger than most vehicles on the road meaning that when an accident does occur, the injuries are often catastrophic and life-threatening.

Tailgating and Following too Closely Increases the Odds of a Rear-End Collision

According to Statistics provided by NHTSA, rear-end collisions account for roughly 29 percent of all collisions. Nationwide, rear-end collisions account for approximately 2,000 deaths and 23,000 injuries each year. In fact, rear-end collisions are the most frequently occurring type of collision. In light of their relative prevalence among types of accidents, reducing the risk factors that lead to rear-end collisions can prevent accidents and injuries while saving lives. Past efforts to reduce the incidences of rear-end crashes have included the 1986 requirement for automobiles to be equipped with a center high-mounted stop lamp (CHMSL). While the CHMSL appears to have reduced the incidence of rear-end collisions by about 4 percent, safety experts believe that more can be done.

Challenges that must be addressed to further reduce the incidence of rear-end collisions involving commercial trucks and other vehicles includes reducing driver distractions. Typical concerns regarding driver distractions are typically focused on electronic devices like cell phones and in-vehicle entertainment systems. However, dining while driving, talking with a passenger, and a variety of activities can also distract the driver. Furthermore, even when the driver is focused on the roadway ahead, he or she can disengage from his or her surroundings and day dream. In fact, an NHTSA study found that 40 percent of rear-end collisions occurred despite the trailing driver having his or her focus directed out the front windshield at the time the lead vehicle began braking.

Avoiding Truck Blind Spots Can Minimize Risky Situations

As larger vehicles, trucks have a number of blind spots where even a diligent driver cannot see a vehicle or hazard. Unfortunately, many motorists are unaware of where a truck’s blind spots are located, the fact that they are in or exiting a blind spot, or how to safely navigate these challenges. Blind spots where a truck driver cannot see another vehicle include:

  • The areas running immediately alongside the length of the truck. The blind spot can extend from the truck cab all the way back along the trailer.
  • The areas immediately behind the truck. If a trailer is attached, a trailing vehicle following closely may be completely obscured.
  • Areas directly in front of the truck can also hide other vehicles due to the height of the truck and its hood.

While all vehicles can be lost due to a truck blind spot, smaller vehicles like mid-sized to compact cars and motorcycles are particularly vulnerable to this risk. The right-side of the truck can be the most dangerous because large vehicles often swing-out and make wide right-hand turns.

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Maintain Awareness of Changing Road and Weather Conditions

Motorists should also be sure to maintain awareness of changing weather conditions and possible road hazards. As for weather conditions, rain, snow, sleet, hail, and even high winds can all increase the risk of a serious accident. Precipitation can reduce visibility, increase stopping distances, and increase the odds of a loss of vehicle control. High winds or crosswinds can also lead to unexpected forces that can cause a vehicle to sway in a lane or swerve into another lane of travel. Large trucks and their increased mass are more effected by the increase in stopping distances created by rain or other precipitation. Likewise, the increased height of most commercial trucks also makes the vehicle more prone to the effects of high winds.

Drivers must modify their driving behaviors when faced with poor weather or road conditions. In short, drivers should permit additional following distance and ensure that ample clearance is available when passing a truck. Taking simple precautions based on the conditions present can greatly decrease the likelihood of a serious collision.

Rely on Our Trucking Accident Personal Injury Experience in Pennsylvania

If you have been seriously injured by a commercial truck driver or if a loved one has been severely injured or killed bey a commercial driver, the experienced Philadelphia truck accident lawyers of The Reiff Law Firm can fight for compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. To schedule a free and confidential legal consultation call our firm at (215) 246-9000 today.

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