More than 4,000 people die in large trucking accidents each year. These large, powerful vehicles pose unique threats to motorists regardless of where they are driving. Big trucks drive on both quiet, residential roads and bustling freeways, and you should know how to share the road with them regardless of where you drive.
Studies indicate the majority of injuries and fatalities that occur during trucking accidents involve passenger vehicle occupants. Most trucks feature large, raised cabs. Truck drivers remain relatively protected in these annexed areas during accidents. Passenger vehicle occupants, however, are not so lucky.
Below, we’ve outlined a handful of the most common trucks seen on roadways today and the types of accidents they cause. We’ve also included several pieces of advice for drivers looking to avoid large truck collisions. You’ll never prevent an accident with certainty—but the more you know, the more empowered you’ll be to protect yourself and other motorists on the road.
Common Trucks on the Road: An Overview
American drivers can recognize these vehicles in the blink of an eye. In fact, the tractor-trailer configuration is the most popular on roadways today.
Also known as big rigs, semi-trucks, and eighteen-wheelers, tractor-trailers are amongst the most dangerous of all vehicles on the road. The American Trucking Association notes that these vehicles are “tractor and semitrailer combinations.” The tractor portion of the truck houses the engine and cab. This is where tractor-trailer drivers sit. The large, long, and boxy units that tractors pull behind them are known as semitrailers.
Even tractor-trailers that meet certain size regulations—and are operated by well-trained drivers—can still pose a serious risk on the road. Their immense size allows them to deal tremendous damage in accidents. It also negatively impacts their drivers’ ability to scan their surroundings and watch other drivers’ behavior. Consider the size of a typical vehicle’s blind spot and it quickly becomes apparent that many tractor-trailer drivers are totally unaware of a decent portion of their surroundings.
Think of tankers as tractor-trailers designed to carry liquids. Rather than the tractor hauling a large boxy semitrailer, this configuration uses it to haul a large tank trailer. Many of the tanker trucks that you see on the road are transporting liquid that could prove dangerous—or even deadly—if spilled, so maintaining a safe distance from them should always be a top priority.
Even tankers hauling perfectly benign substances can cause disastrous messes or collisions in the event of a spill. While drivers who operate these trucks must receive special training and certification, there’s no guarantee that their negligence (or other conditions around them) won’t impact their driving.
Collisions with tanker trucks can lead to injury and death. Some victims are caught in deadly explosions; others may slide on spilled liquids or end up in accidents trying to avoid the wreckage. It’s always best to treat these trucks with caution and avoid close proximity to them when possible.
Delivery trucks are also known as box trucks. While they may look similar to tractor-trailers, delivery trucks tend to weigh a little less. The primary distinguishing feature between the two lies in their configurations. While tractor-trailers are comprised of a vehicle and a trailer, delivery trucks are all one vehicle.
Don’t let their slightly smaller size fool you. Delivery trucks still pose a notable threat on American roadways. Drivers must keep a keen eye on their surroundings any time they’re near one of these vehicles.
This subset of trucks encompasses most of the construction and other large, purpose-driven trucks you see on the road. Cement trucks, dump trucks, garbage trucks, and a wealth of other vehicles all fall under this category.
These trucks’ size and weight alone already put other drivers at serious risk. If one of these trucks crashes or rolls, it poses serious danger to all motor vehicle operators nearby. It’s also important to remember that these trucks pose another unique risk: debris. Heavy cement or rock mixes could spell out serious injury (or even death) if they tumble down onto your vehicle while driving.
Quick Tips for Sharing the Road
Even the most detailed and well-intentioned advice is no guarantee that you’ll prevent a truck accident. However, you can keep yourself and others in your vehicle safer around large trucks. The following precautions may help decrease the likelihood of an accident:
- Don’t take chances – If there’s ever a time when daring antics could prove deadly, this may be it. Don’t rush to cut off a big rig when you see that its driver is considering a lane change. Pass with care, allow large trucks plenty of space, and always try to act predictably.
- Remember the turns – Many large trucks on the road today have a decal or sticker reminding other drivers that these vehicles take wide turns. Heed these warnings—or remember this one. Always assume that you’re totally invisible to truck drivers. The need of swinging out wide to accomplish even the most casual turns. Don’t get caught in a blind spot.
- Consider weight differences – If you find yourself tempted to make a bold move near a truck on the road, take a moment to consider the reality of the danger you could face. Trucks are much larger and heavier than passenger vehicles. If you get in a wreck, chances are that your vehicle (and its occupants) will suffer much more than the truck.
- Weather conditions play a role – Because of most trucks’ immense size, they can easily spray or splash water and snow as they pass through certain areas. Leave plenty of room between yourself and large trucks to avoid sudden reduced visibility.
An Attorney Can Help You Seek Compensation
If you were in an accident with a truck on the road, you deserve to preserve your right to compensation. A truck accident firm can work diligently to assist clients like you throughout the legal process. From your first free consultation until the moment your case is over, you deserve someone who will serve as your partners and empower you to make the best decisions for your wellbeing.
If you suffered at the hands of a negligent driver, contact a truck accident lawyer today for more information so you’ll never need to worry about navigating the complex legal process alone.
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Chicago, IL 60602