By James A. Merritt, Attorney at Law
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), when large trucks (over 10,000 tons) and cars are involved in fatal crashes, 78% of the time the driver or occupant(s) in the car are among the fatalities. In truck accidents, this is no surprise given the difference in size between the vehicles.
The FMCSA is working to improve commercial carrier safety. This includes phased-in regulations over the next year (final compliance by July 1, 2013) on the hours of service that commercial drivers may have in a given time period and mandated breaks. While these new regulations may help to keep tired drivers off the road, there are safety steps you can take now to avoid truck accidents. Here is a list of safety tips:
- Always wear your seat belt – if you are hit from behind by a truck (or another car, for that matter), you could be thrown through the windshield and severely injured or killed. The truck doesn’t even have to hit your vehicle that hard.
- Allow plenty of room. Trucks and buses require greater stopping distances than cars. Do not cut in front of a truck or stop quickly. This is even more important if the truck is fully loaded – the heavier the vehicle, the longer the stopping distance.
- Stay out of the truck’s blind spots. If you can see the driver in the truck’s side mirrors, he or she can probably see you. However, it is always best to drive defensively – assume that the driver cannot see you.
- Watch for trucks making turns. Trucks have a large turning radius and may signal their intent to turn right but swing toward the left before turning. If you try to squeeze in on the right beside them, they may not see you.
- While it doesn’t happen often, trucks may lose their loads while driving. If you see any indication this is happening, move away from the truck and contact local authorities so they may stop the truck so the load may be secured.
Always be attentive when you are driving, especially when you share the road with trucks. If you have been injured in a truck accident, you may wish to speak with a Raleigh-Durham truck accident attorney to learn your rights.