Because truck drivers are professional drivers who receive special training and must carry a special license, one would reasonably expect them to drive cautiously and follow all traffic laws to prevent accidents. After all, even at relatively slow speeds, collisions with semi-trucks can be fatal for passenger car drivers.
Unfortunately, not all truck drivers drive in a reasonable manner. They often engage in careless or downright reckless behaviors that put others on the road at serious risk of injury and death. The following are five things that truck drivers do that cause severe accidents, and what you can do to protect yourself from them.
1) Fail to Check Their Blind Spots
Truckers have large blind spots, but this does not excuse them from taking adequate measures to ensure they are safely changing lanes. Truckers should always check their double side mirrors to ensure vehicles are not lingering on the side of the cab or trailer.
It is always important to stay out of other drivers’ blind spots, but it is especially important to stay out of semi-trucks’ “no-zones” which are much larger than the blind spots on a car or van.
Remember that trucks do not have rearview mirrors, so the driver cannot see directly behind the truck. Other blind spots for truck drivers include the area directly in front of the truck and the sides, including an especially large blind spot on the right-hand side of the truck.
Do whatever you can to ensure the truck driver can see you – stay out of blind spots, pass on the left, do not tailgate, allow plenty of room when pulling into the trucker’s lane – but never assume the truck driver sees you or will adequately check for other vehicles before turning or changing lanes. Always drive defensively around semi-tractor trailers.
2) Tailgating Smaller Passenger Vehicles
Some truck drivers inexplicably tailgate small passenger vehicles, even in heavy traffic. If that smaller passenger vehicle has to make a sudden stop, the truck driver would not have enough time to hit the brakes and come to a complete stop before ramming into the back of the passenger car.
In many of these cases, the large semi-truck rides over the small passenger vehicle. This is called an override accident.
So, what can you do to prevent these accidents? Here are two key safety tips to prevent override accidents:
- Never cut off large trucks. Ensure that you have plenty of space between your vehicle and the truck before pulling into its lane. You should be able to see the entire truck in your rearview mirror before entering its lane.
- If a large truck is tailgating you, pull into the next lane to allow the truck to pass. Never try to “punish” the truck driver by slowing down or tapping your brakes. This could lead to a road rage situation, or might even cause an accident if the truck driver rams into the back of your vehicle.
3) Failure to Signal Their Turns or Lane Changes
Large trucks make wide turns. This means a truck driver who is turning right may have to move slightly into the adjacent left lane to make the right turn. If a truck fails to signal a right turn, drivers behind the truck might assume the truck is changing into the left lane and attempt to pass the truck on its right. But when the truck swings back to the right, it can cause a serious accident.
Truckers have a responsibility to signal their turns and lane changes the same as any other road user. But defensive drivers know not to assume that truck drivers will follow these rules. If you see a truck pull to the left, do not attempt to pass it on the right. In fact, you should make every effort to only pass on the left.
4) Drive While Intoxicated
No driver is permitted to drive while intoxicated. For most road users, the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is 0.08. But for commercial truck drivers, it is even lower: 0.04.
Yet, despite their professional training, some truck drivers choose to drive while intoxicated. If you notice a trucker driving erratically, keep your distance. Find a safe space to pull over and call 9-1-1 to report it to the police.
5) Drive Distracted
Truck drivers may become distracted behind the wheel. They may make phone calls, send and read text messages, send and read emails, or even look at photos or play games on their cell phone while operating a large truck.
These behaviors are more common than you probably think. A 2014 report from ABC News caught several truck drivers using their cell phones behind the wheel.
But truck driver distractions don’t end at cell phone use. Other distractions include:
- Eating in their truck
- Messing with dials and buttons in the truck
- Talking to passengers
- Reaching for items in the cab
If you spot a truck driver who is distracted or driving erratically, pull over and call 9-1-1 to report it to the police. Always keep your distance from distracted drivers.
What should I do after a truck accident?
If you are ever involved in an accident with a truck, there are several steps you should take to protect your health and your legal right to compensation. These steps are:
- Seek medical attention for yourself and all others involved immediately
- Call the police and stay at the scene of the accident until they arrive
- Collect contact and insurance information from the other driver
- Take photographs of the crash and the surrounding area (use your cell phone)
- Jot down your memories of the crash while it is still fresh in your mind
- Obtain contact information from any eyewitnesses
- Never admit fault or apologize to the other driver, even if you think you might be at fault
- Collect a copy of the police report
- Report the accident to your own insurance company
- Call an attorney, who is experienced at representing injured persons against the trucking industry, to recover fair compensation
The Colorado Springs truck accident attorneys at Sears & Associates, P.C. are here to help you and your family after a crash. We have years of experience helping people just like you and we will fight to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 719-471-1984 to set up your free initial consultation.