Large commercial trucks have become a part of modern American life. They are so ubiquitous that it is uncommon for individuals to not see one as part of their daily commute. Unfortunately, just because they are common does not mean that they are the safest vehicles on the road. In fact, the exact opposite is true.
Large commercial vehicles pose a massive risk to people in smaller passenger vehicles, with the majority of injuries and fatalities related to commercial truck crashes happening to the people in the smaller vehicle. There are several reasons why commercial trucks are dangerous vehicles, and understanding those risk factors can help you stay safer when sharing the road with these huge trucks.
Commercial trucks have massive blind spots
Many commercial trucks have large rearview mirrors on the sides of their vehicles. The idea is to help expand the visibility for the driver. Even with large mirrors, truck drivers typically can’t see vehicles that are in the lanes directly next to them or behind them in traffic.
On busy roadways, including interstates, drivers may have no choice but to maneuver into these blind spots at some point. Unfortunately, being in direct proximity to a large commercial truck drastically increases the likelihood of the truck driver not seeing you and the potential for a crash.
Knowing to avoid these areas is important, but it’s also important to acknowledge that you cannot always prevent coming close to commercial vehicles in heavy traffic conditions.
Commercial trucks don’t maneuver as well as smaller vehicles
Commercial trucks are a lot taller, longer and heavier than passenger vehicles. That extra size means that they have more momentum and can cause more damage in the event of a crash. It also means that truck drivers need to take great care to preserve control over their vehicle at all times.
Everything from turning to stopping is more difficult in a commercial truck. Keeping that in mind could help you avoid some of the most common mistakes, such as cutting off a commercial truck in heavy traffic.
If you merge directly in front of a commercial truck, they may not be able to slow or stop in time without rear-ending your vehicle. While the average rear-end collision is a negligible incident, a semitruck that rear-ends a passenger vehicle could demolish the smaller vehicle in the process.
Truck drivers can make mistakes just like anyone else
Human error is unquestionably the most significant contributing factor to the vast majority of collisions that happen. Some of the biggest risk factors for collisions involve distraction, impairment or fatigue on the part of the driver.
Truck drivers are at high risk for fatigue, in part because they work long hours. They are also at elevated risk for succumbing to the impulse to distract themselves while at the wheel, potentially as a way to stay awake or maintain a connection with loved ones while they are far away.
For individuals who get hurt in a crash caused by negligence, intoxication or fatigue on the part of a commercial driver, it may be possible to hold that driver and their employer responsible for the damages and injuries you suffer.