Commercial Truck Safety

Imagine driving on a highway in the middle of the day, you happen to glance into the middle lane and you see a big rig passing you with no driver in the driver seat! This sounds like nonsense, right? Not really. Recently, the media has been talking about the possibility of self-driving cars and commercial trucks1. But, until that occurs, it is important to focus on the safety of actual big rig drivers.

According to the American Trucking Association, there are more than three million truck drivers in the United States, and approximately one out of every 15 workers in the country are employed by the trucking business2. The National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2014, (when they released their latest report) of the more than three million truck drivers, 3,978 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes3.

Although in some cases, commercial truck accidents are a result of reckless driving by the passenger vehicle driver, it is important for commercial drivers to focus on how to stay safe as they drive long distances. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has outlined safety tips for commercial drivers based on research that identifies the top driving issues that cause accidents4:

  • Be sure to buckle up. The Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) reported that 23 percent of combination truck, single-vehicle crashes involved the driver not wearing a safety belt5.
  • Reduce driving speed based on conditions. This means that you need to adjust your speed to safely match weather conditions, road conditions, visibility, and traffic; enter a curve slowly and reduce speed before entering an exit/entrance ramp.
  • Know where you are going before you start a trip. This means you should review your map and travels plan before you start a trip. For example, if you miss a turn, you should avoid suddenly changing direction. For safety’s sake, just get off the next turn and recalculate your route. It is also important to always use turn signals to alert change of lanes and turns.
  • Stay aware of the vehicles and traffic around you. In other words, be aware of the “no-zone”; blind spots that drivers may be unaware of. Also, it is important to drive defensively, keeping in mind that drivers may not know how to navigate around large trucks. It is also important to check your mirrors often, and approach intersections with caution.
  • Do not allow driver distractions to divert attention, causing an accident. In addition to not using a mobile device while driving, it is important not to allow objects outside of your truck to distract you. It is also important to not use a dispatching device while driving. Reading or writing while driving is also not prudent.
  • Maintain the correct distance from another vehicle while driving. Following too closely may be defined as, “situations in which one vehicle is following another vehicle so closely that even if the following driver is attentive to the actions of the vehicle ahead he/she could not avoid a collision in the circumstance when the driver in front brakes suddenly6.” It is also important to maintain double the distance in adverse conditions.
  • Be an aware driver to evade a potential traffic conflict. When drivers fail to execute a proper evasive maneuver by not using sufficient steering inputs, not braking appropriately, or a combination of insufficient steering and braking inputs, it is called inadequate evasive action7. Drivers need to watch for signals such as brake lights and practicing good scanning habits.

Driving a commercial truck is not an easy job, it requires a significant amount of responsibility. That said, if you, or someone you know, have been injured as a result of a commercial truck accident, please contact the experienced attorneys of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP to discuss your rights. Simply call 1800LAW1010 or use this form to get started.

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