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.