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How To Avoid Trucking Accidents, Whether You're The Driver Or The Other Guy

These days being out on the road as a driver, you run the risk of being involved in an accident with a large truck, whether you are the operator of the truck or the driver of another vehicle. According to recent data by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, when there are fatalities in these accidents, about three-quarters of the time, the deceased are the occupants of the non-truck vehicle. Read on to learn how to avoid these trucking accidents, as both the driver of a truck or another vehicle on the road.

When You're the Operator of a Truck

Even if you're not a commercial truck driver, you may have the occasion to operate a truck, such as when you rent a moving van or haul materials from a home supply store. If you're not used to driving a truck, keep these points in mind:

  • In general, the heavier the vehicle, the more time and distance it needs to stop. Practice braking in remote areas or a parking lot until you get the hang of it. Allow extra space between you and the vehicle in front of you.
  • If you have a tendency towards a lead foot, use speed controls on the dashboard to stay under the speed limit.
  • Remember that in spite of having numerous extra-large mirrors, you may have blind spots. Take extra care, signal, and double check before changing lanes.
  • Make sure the truck is well maintained, especially the tires and brakes.
  • Ensure the truck is loaded properly, so the contents are weighted correctly and won't shift during transit.
  • Remember that your turning radius is much wider, especially on exit ramps and tight corners.
  • Keep to a manageable schedule. Don't try to drive more than what is reasonable in any day--a big reason behind many accidents involving commercial trucks.
  • Stay alert. Don't drive a truck when tired, on medication, or under the influence of any alcohol.

When You're Driving the Other Vehicle

Being the driver of a non-truck vehicle puts you in a more vulnerable position on the road. You need to be very vigilant about other drivers, especially large trucks, where the driver may be fatigued or can't see you.

Try to avoid driving in areas frequented by large trucks in fog, rain, snow, ice, smoke, or dust. Pass trucks expediently and carefully when you need to, and don't assume they see you.

Whenever a truck is near you, take measures to increase your distance from it:

  • Slow down to create more space between you and a truck in front of you in case of rapid stops, loose cargo, or shredded tires.
  • Pull off the road if you are on a single-lane highway and being tailgated by a truck.
  • Turn on your hazards if a truck is behind you, and you can't get out of its way, especially if visibility is poor.
  • Move into a different lane where there are no trucks.

Ideally, you want to be traveling in the lane that affords you the most choices should an emergency suddenly arise: the center lane on a three-lane highway or the lane next to the shoulder on a two-lane road, for example.

To learn how to handle urgent driving situations, consider taking a defensive driving class, similar to what police and ambulance personnel take. You'll learn emergency braking skills, obstacle avoidance techniques, and how to read the road in front of you for potential dangers and exit strategies.

Sometimes, no matter how much you follow the tips above and how safely you drive, accidents happen. If you or a loved one are involved in an accident with a truck, know that it is possible the driver of truck was at fault. If you sustain serious injuries or damage and feel you are entitled to compensation beyond the usual insurance coverage, contact an accident and personal injury attorney, like Teresa P Williams PA. You may have the grounds for a lawsuit against the driver of the truck.