Big Rig Accident

Trucking Accidents: How to Avoid an Accident with a Big Rig

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), more than 4,100 individuals were killed in large truck crashes in 2017. This was a 30% increase over the number of fatalities resulting from commercial trucking accidents in 2009, less than a decade earlier. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of those killed in big rig accidents were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Only 17% of the victims were large truck occupants.

Trucking accidents have been on the rise in recent years, and those who share the road with them are most susceptible to serious injuries and fatalities. While there are some 18-wheeler accidents that are caused by external factors (such as inclement weather) and cannot be avoided, most are preventable.

To avoid a big rig accident and stay safe on the road, there are several precautions drivers should take:

Do not Follow a Truck too Closely

Never tailgate a large commercial truck (or any other vehicle for that matter), and always allow trucks plenty of space. Driving too close to a tractor-trailer puts you at increased risk of various hazards, such as:

  • Sudden slowdowns;
  • Tire blowouts;
  • Rollovers from high winds or overloaded/unevenly loaded trucks;
  • Your vehicle being struck by debris falling out the back of the truck.

Maintain a safe driving distance between you and the truck. Under normal conditions, you should allow at least one car length or at least four seconds. If there is adverse weather such as rain, snow, or ice, the distance should be longer. Be sure to also give a truck plenty of space and distance when they are making a turn. 18-wheelers often take up two lanes when making wide turns, so be careful not to get caught too close to them while they are performing this action.

Avoid the Trucker’s Blind Spots

Big rig trucks have more blind spots than any other type of vehicle. In general, if you cannot see the driver in the truck’s side mirrors, he/she probably is not able to see you. This is another reason it is so important to give large trucks plenty of space. Avoid driving too closely behind trucks or alongside or directly in front of them, unless you need to pass them. Which leads us to our next point.

Be Careful Passing or Merging with a Big Rig

Always allow yourself plenty of space to pass a large commercial truck. In general, do not pass the truck while driving sharply uphill or downhill, because the truck may naturally accelerate or decelerate its speed. Another thing to keep in mind is that a trucker’s largest blind spot is on the right side of the vehicle. So, always pass along the left side where it is easier for them to see you. Finally, be very careful when you are merging into traffic with a truck in the lane next to you. Again, make sure you have plenty of space if you want to be in front of them. Otherwise, let them take the lead.

Lower your High Beams

Most people realize that they need to lower their brights when they see a vehicle coming in the opposite direction at night. It is not always as clear when you should have your brights on with traffic that is going in the same direction. Generally, if there is another vehicle within a few car lengths from you, you should keep your brights off. This is especially true if you are following a big rig, because they have larger mirrors, and drivers could be blinded by your high beams.

Avoid Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is quickly becoming one of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents. In today’s digital age, the increased use of smartphones has greatly enhanced this danger. Texting while driving and similar activities distract motorists manually, visually, and cognitively. Never engage in this type of activity while driving near a large commercial truck or any time you are behind the wheel.

Injured in a Trucking Accident in Virginia? Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

If you followed all the best safety practices and still ended up in an accident with a big rig, you have a right to be compensated for your losses. These types of cases can be highly complex, however, because there are numerous governing laws and regulations, and multiple parties that could potentially be at fault. For this reason, it is important to retain an experienced attorney as early as possible and the process.

At Schilling & Esposito, we have in-depth experience and a successful track record with even the most complex personal injury cases. We work closely with our clients, and we fight hard to obtain full and fair compensation for their injuries. For a free consultation with one of our skilled Virginia truck accident attorneys, contact our office today at 804-261-1001, or send us a message through our online contact form.  

Aggressive Driving Accident

Drowsy Driving and Truck Accidents

Truck drivers log thousands of hours over-the-road each year, and many times, they drive for very long stretches during the overnight hours. Truckers are often under pressure to drive longer than they should because of tight deadlines and the need to stay on schedule and deliver their loads on time. These conditions can create a lot of fatigue and drowsiness while they are behind the wheel. When you are operating a vehicle that often weighs more than 80,000 pounds fully loaded, driving while drowsy can create a dangerous situation. 

Drowsy Driving Statistics in the United States

Driving while drowsy is a more widespread problem in the US than most people realize. Here are some troubling statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Drowsy driving is responsible for more than 70,000 crashes and more than 40,000 injuries each year.
  • Approximately one out of every 25 adult drivers (those ages 18 years and older) report having fallen asleep at the wheel at least once during the past 30 days.
  • Several hundred deaths are directly attributable to drowsy driving-related crashes each year. However, the CDC believes that these numbers are underreported and that as many as 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be caused by drowsy driving.

Driving while you are drowsy and in danger of falling asleep at the wheel is just as dangerous (or worse) as driving while intoxicated. It is usually caused by driving without having enough sleep. However, there are other possible causes; such as alcohol, taking various medications, too many repetitive hours at the wheel, and having untreated sleep apnea or another type of untreated sleep disorder. Drowsy driving is dangerous because it slows drivers’ reaction times and it inhibits their ability to handle adverse conditions that may come up while on the road.

Drowsy Driving and Truck Accidents

The CDC identifies commercial drivers who operate vehicles such as tractor-trailers as among the groups most likely to drive while drowsy. A report from the Harvard School of Medical Study also found that drowsy driving is a major problem with commercial truckers. The study concluded that nearly a quarter of million individuals drive while they are drowsy or fatigued each day, and nearly half of those who participated in the study admitted to having fallen asleep at the wheel.

When a truck driver gets drowsy while operating an 18-wheeler, it can result in deadly consequences. Big rigs are 20 to 30 times heavier (when fully loaded) than a regular passenger vehicle, and when there is a collision, occupants of the passenger vehicle are 28 times more likely to be seriously injured or killed. 

There are several reasons why commercial truck drivers are more likely to drive while drowsy then most other groups. As mentioned earlier, truckers are under a lot of stress, and although federal regulations prohibit them from driving an excessive number of hours without a break, they are often under pressure to violate these regulations in order to keep their schedule. To do so, they frequently turn to short-term fixes, such as coffee, other caffeinated drinks, and “uppers.” Unfortunately, these are no substitute for pulling into a truck stop and taking a much-needed rest. 

Sleep apnea is another common issue among truck drivers. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), as many as 28% of commercial drivers have mild to severe sleep apnea. If the condition is not successfully treated, this could disqualify them from driving, because it would make them more susceptible to fatigue and drowsy driving, thus inhibiting their ability to operate the vehicle safely.

Injured in a Trucking Accident? Contact a Skilled Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or someone close to you has been injured in a truck accident that was the result of drowsy driving or any other type of negligence, you deserve to be fully compensated. Truck accident cases can be complicated, however, because there are multiple parties that may be responsible and determining who is at fault requires an extensive investigation from legal professionals with in-depth knowledge of this area of the law. At Schilling & Esposito, we have successfully represented numerous clients who have been injured in truck accidents, and we put our extensive experience to work to aggressively pursue full and fair compensation on behalf of each client we serve. For a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys, contact our office today at 804-261-1001, or send us a message through our online contact form.