Commercial trucks are a massive presence on our nation’s roads. Truck drivers must have driving skills a notch above everyone else, because their vehicles have so much more potential to cause harm and damage. They must react quicker to stop or swerve, and take extra precautions in changing lanes and in bad weather.
Common Causes of Trucking Accidents
Here are some of the more common causes of trucking accidents.
- Reckless Car Drivers
While truck drivers need to have special skills and use extra caution, there are still basic safety requirements expected of drivers in small vehicles. If you take it upon yourself to drive in a truck’s blind spot for an extended period of time you are asking to be sideswiped by an 18 wheeler.
- Trucker Compensation Incentives
While commercial truckers are given financial incentives to meet tight deadlines, unfortunately it also means some drivers will eschew safety precautions in order to meet or beat their expected arrival time. We’ve all seen it before: truckers going above and beyond the speed limit and changing lanes quickly without regard for their fellow growth inhabitants.
- Unsecured Cargo
It’s only natural that when you come up behind a truck with an open bed hauling goods you can only assume are securely fastened in place, you worry something will work its way loose smash into your windshield.
No matter what a truck driver is carrying, if the trucking company and its employees don’t take explicit measures to secure their trucks’ cargo, it can end up causing a serious accident.
- Inadequate Driver Training
Commercial truck drivers must get special training to maneuver such a massive vehicle with tons of cargo. If they aren’t properly trained, which unfortunately happens sometimes, they are a menace on the roads.
- Trucking Equipment Malfunctions
It doesn’t matter how safe a truck driver is if the vehicle they are driving is not functioning properly. If the trucking company does not stay up to date on scheduled maintenance, things such as premature tire wear or break malfunctions can cause an accident.
- Other Drivers
And of course, truck drivers are by far not the only ones responsible for accidents on the road. There are a lot of other drivers out there in cars and other smaller vehicles who tend to pull a dumb move from time to time, oblivious to our presence. While we can’t control what other people do, it’s important to be the ultimate defensive driver when behind the wheel of a big rig.
- Poor Judgment
Of course, poor judgment can also be a cause of trucking accidents. This obviously covers most of the above, as driving with little sleep, doing drugs, or hitting the road without proper training are obviously all poor choices. But sometimes poor judgment is more split second than that, and this is the case in many accidents that don’t involve commercial trucks as well.
These are just a few examples. Any number of things can cause a truck accident. Sometimes no one is at fault. However, sometimes negligence occurs, putting people’s lives at risk.
How To Avoid Trucking Accidents
Driving our nation’s big trucks takes a certain kind of an individual-a certain type of driver. There are a lot of hazards involved, both for them and other vehicles-add in long hours, a wandering mind, exhaustion, and hazardous road conditions. Many things may go wrong. This is no news to a truck driver, especially those who take their jobs really seriously, but a reminder never hurts, and in this business, being too sure of yourself can be a dangerous thing.
It’s a fine line. Here are some safety pointers that will help truck drivers avoid accidents.
- Pass Extremely Carefully
It never ceases to amaze me when I see big trucks hurtling by me in the fast lane on mountain roads-roads they no doubt know like the backs of their hands; additionally, excessive confidence in oneself can be lethal in this business. Big trucks have huge blind spots and it’s easy to miss the presence of a tiny vehicle on the road, especially on a windy road. Always be 100% positive about how many vehicles are around and where they are before making a safe pass.
- Be Ready for the Road
While most drivers are responsible professionals, the job is taxing on both the body and mind, and it is extremely imperative to keep both finely tuned. Make sure you get adequate sleep, healthy meals, and regular exercise so that you are fully ready for your driving duties and all the variables that come along with them.
This equally applies to your vehicle. Be over-diligent about maintenance and check the entire rig more often than is required.
- Go at or Under the Speed Limit
With a time crunch and superiors breathing down your neck, it can be tempting to go faster than is legal or safe, but speeding is one of the most common causes of trucking accidents. Big trucks have a much longer needed stopping distance, and if a truck is going too fast and suddenly brakes, there is a real hazard of jackknifing, which is very dangerous for you and any person around. Always stick to the speed limit posted for big trucks, and if you’re ever in doubt, go slower than is necessary.
- Make Super Slow Turns
Your speed is especially important when taking big turns as your berth will be much wider than a smaller vehicle’s. If anyone is beside you, you run the risk of pushing them out of their lane with your trailer. And even if you go a little too fast and just edge towards them, the other driver may panic and it can cause an accident that didn’t need to happen.
- Refrain From Tailgating
Pursuing the car or truck too closely is not only rude or obnoxious, but it can be high risk as well. There are drivers around who make an effort to bully smaller sized trucks sluggishly driving in front of them by means of driving their bumper near their trucks to make them hurry up. If you are dealing with this situation, just make room and allow them to pass by. Move away from the car or truck too. A brush with rude truck drivers should be taken in jest because even the most basic payback may end up into something drastic
Again, this is all things that truckers know, and in fact doesn’t even scratch the surface of what only experience can teach. But when we do something day in and day out, we tend to fall into a routine, and if nothing has ever gone wrong before, we tend to stop taking it as seriously. Therefore, keep these in mind the next time you head out, and be that much more careful about getting back home safely.