The highways and back roads of Florida are inundated with traffic. You simply can't get around it. Furthermore, the biggest threat to other vehicles on the road are big rigs, also known as tractor-trailers, because of their:
- Blind spots
Yet, trucking is necessary because the trucking industry hauls more freight more miles than any other form of transportation. You will always be sharing the road with trucks, even though you might find this dangerous.
And rightly so, in truck crashes involving big rigs, the occupants of a car, usually the driver, sustain more than 70% of the fatalities. However, many truck vs. car crashes can be avoided.
Safely sharing the road with trucks is possible when you are aware of their difficulties and limitations. Trucks pass slowly because many are speed-limited, and drivers can be fired for breaking the rules. Rather than viewing a semi-truck as a nuisance or an obstacle to veer around, we should educate ourselves on the particular practices we should follow when driving close to large vehicles.
1. Blind Spots
You need to stay away from a truck's blind spots. While truckers have a good forward view and big mirrors, they still have significant blind spots. Big rigs are so large that they have a slew of blind spots on all sides. These prevent the drivers from being able to see the other vehicles around them on the road. If a car is traveling in the blind spot of a truck, it is in danger of being involved in an accident.
A truck's blind spots are:
- On either side
- In the rear
- Sometimes in the front
A truck driver should drive in the right lane. A truck's main blind spot is the right side of the vehicle. Because of this blind spot, vehicle accidents and sideswipes are widespread. If conditions allow, driving in the right lane is a good way to reduce right-side sideswipe accidents.
That's why it's never a good idea to drive directly alongside a big rig. By staying in the no-zones or blind spots, you are putting yourself and the truck driver in danger. If you cannot see the truck driver in the side-view mirror, the driver cannot see you.
2. Acceleration and Braking
Most cars need 300 feet of space to come to a complete stop. A truck might require twice this distance. Because of its weight and size, a large truck will need a lot more room and time than a car or van to accelerate and to brake.
Don't attempt dangerous maneuvers around trucks. When a truck driver wishes to move into your lane, don't speed up and get ahead. What you should do is slow down slightly and flash your high beams twice to let the truck driver know it is okay to make the lane change.
Truck drivers need quite a bit of distance to safely and properly turn their entire vehicle. Trucks have to swing wide to the left to make a right turn safely. They cannot see motorcycles or cars behind or beside them. So, traveling too close behind it or trying to squeeze in between it and the curb may spell trouble. Check if the truck driver intends to turn before making any moves.
If traffic is stop-and-go, a truck might not have enough room to stop without hitting a car in front of it. As a tip, when in stop-and-go traffic:
- Try to change lanes
- Avoid being directly in front of a truck
- Don't drive aggressively
- If a truck is turning, stop, and give it room
- Allow plenty of clearance
Maintain a safe distance between your car and large trucks and be a cautious driver. Large trucks create wind currents that can threaten your vehicle's stability when you are close. Also, frequently, semi-trailers have tire blowouts, which can send debris into the road. Tailgating a truck is dangerous because you don't have a safety cushion if the truck stops in front of you unexpectedly.
Adverse driving conditions make a difference for every vehicle on the road. Allow trucks at least four-six seconds of space when there is rain, snow, smoke, or fog and you are traveling on the highway.
3. Driver Fatigue
Driver fatigue is a big problem when it comes to big rigs. Drowsy driving can be just as bad as drunk driving and can lead to accidents:
- A tired driver will not be as alert as one who has gotten plenty of rest recently
- A tired driver will not have the proper judgment to gauge traffic and speed patterns of other vehicles
Tractor-trailer drivers are usually on the road for anywhere from 11 to 14 consecutive hours at a time without a break. That is why there are hours of service regulations in place by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that require drivers to take breaks lasting ten consecutive hours or more when driving for the mentioned periods. FMCSA also requires drivers to take a 30-minute break if they have been on duty for eight hours, even if they have not been driving for eight hours.
- Truck drivers should always drive defensively
- They need to be aware of everything; that way, they can act if and when necessary
- They should look well ahead and around their truck
- They should be aware of who is in front of them, beside them, and behind them
- They should be aware of their no-zone
- They should be well-rested, it will keep them at their best
If used correctly by the carrier, the electronic logbook system can provide a system for truck drivers to drive well-rested.
4. Weight, Size, and Length of the Big Rig
Trucks pose a significant danger for other vehicles due to their:
- Weight - The weight of a truck, which can reach 80K pounds, can crush a smaller vehicle, which weighs roughly 3,5K pounds.
- Size and length - When a large truck collides with a car, there will be more damage to the car because of the size differential.
Be extra careful when you pass a truck. The bigger the truck, the longer it takes to pass it. Always pass on the left side and observe a truck's turn signal before passing. Place more space between your car and the truck than you would with other vehicles. When passing, wait until the entire cab is in your rear-view mirror before signaling and pulling in front of it. Don't cut in front of any large vehicles because they require an increased stopping distance.
5. Broken or Poorly Maintained Trucks
If allowed on the road, a dangerous or broken truck may cause an accident. Truckers and trucking companies have to:
- Inspect their vehicles for problems
- Make necessary repairs to maintain their trucks in good working order
This duty applies to all truck components, including:
- Safety equipment (lights, reflectors)
Safety starts with the pre-trip inspection. Ensuring your truck is in safe operating order and compliant with state and federal regulations helps guard against mechanical breakdowns. A pre-trip inspection takes around 15 minutes and can save you time and money in the future.
Recover What Is Rightfully Yours after a Truck Accident in Florida
You need a truck accident lawyer with the skill, intellect, experience, and determination to level the playing field against the trucking industry and the powerful insurance companies. We have the resources and access to excellent experts to prove liability and damages and present proof to the insurance companies, judges, and juries for the entire amount of damages in your case.
We work with:
- Accident reconstructionists
- Medical professionals
- Life-care planners
Being injured in an accident with a large truck can change your life. If you have been injured in such an accident, it's best to contact our Miami truck accident lawyer today to schedule a free consultation regarding your case.