It can feel genuinely intimidating to drive next to an 18-wheeler that weighs thousands of pounds and travels at speeds higher than 60 mph. The compulsion to get away from these vehicles is a valid one as an accident involving these vehicles of their size can often be fatal. The more passenger car drivers understand what causes trucking accidents, the more likely they are to avoid these accidents.
Despite advances in vehicle safety and trucking technology, trucking accidents are at a 30-year high. While passenger vehicles have little control over what happens in an accident, drivers have a lot of control over never getting in a collision with a semi-truck.
Common causes of trucking accidents
Anyone is capable of creating an accident with a semi-truck. Here are several of the reasons that have led to a 30-year high in trucking accidents:
- Cargo issues – improperly balanced cargo can keep a driver from effectively controlling their vehicle. These balance issues can quickly turn into a disaster on the road.
- Distracted driving – taking your eyes off the road for only a few moments on a highway is the same as driving blindfolded for hundreds of yards. Everyone needs to avoid distractions like cell phones, eating and drinking, and the GPS or radio as much as possible while driving.
- Driving under the influence – truckers are just as vulnerable to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In addition to typical influences, truckers are also known to use caffeine or energy pills to keep them awake for more extended periods.
- Fatigue – spending too much time on the road can result in a driver losing focus or even falling asleep behind the wheel. Truckers regularly spend more than 11 hours a day driving, and some drive more than that. Nodding off for only a few seconds can cause a driver to drift into oncoming traffic, another lane, or a ditch off the road.
- Poor vehicle maintenance – when a driver does not regularly check on their brake pads, windshield wipers, turning signals, and even windshield washer fluid, a minor inconvenience can quickly turn into an accident with lifelong consequences.
Just because a trucker is a driving professional does not mean that you should take your safety for granted while on the road. Many causes of trucking accidents are the same causes of passenger vehicle accidents. Make sure you give large trucks the space they need to protect your safety and theirs.