As the 4th largest city in Texas, Austin is no stranger to tractor-trailer travel. Hundreds of trucks drive our highways each day, transporting goods and services to and from our metropolis. While this is excellent for the Austin economy, caution should be taken when driving on the road with big trucks.
According to the NHTSA, accidents involving large trucks resulted in almost 4,000 deaths and 104,000 injuries in 2012. Texas alone accounted for 543 of these accidents – the highest of any state. Furthermore, of those people injured in 2012, 73% were passengers of the other vehicle as compared to only 24% who were inside the truck. Therefore, large truck accidents are more likely to be far more dangerous for occupants of passenger vehicles.
Collisions with Large Trucks; Why Are Trucks More Dangerous?
While it may seem like common sense, most of us do not consider the risk factors associated with driving trucks. For example, trucks are much larger and heavier than passenger cars. They cannot accelerate, brake, or maneuver as easily as a passenger car can.
The size of trucks also causes blind spots for the driver. These professionals cannot see directly in front of or behind them. They also have a hard time seeing cars to the left and right of the trailer. Additionally, they are typically hauling cargo, which if improperly fastened, can fall onto the roadway or cars. Trailers with a payload may be too heavy, enabling them to tip or separate from the truck.
Causes of Tractor-Trailer Collisions
Accidents are complex events and often involve more than one factor. Some result from vehicles getting off course, such as drifting into another lane, losing control of the vehicle, or rear-ending another. These events can occur due to operator impairment, like fatigue or driving under the influence. Distracted driving and poor judgment can also lead to these events.
If trucks are not inspected or maintained properly, engine failure, improper cargo loading or attachment, and tire blowouts can all occur. Additionally, there is always an accident risk associated with bad weather. The inability to maneuver quickly causes trucks to be especially dangerous in snowy, rainy, or windy conditions, causing serious harm with collisions with large trucks.
How You Can Stay Safe from Collisions with Large Trucks
Staying aware on the road is the key to being safe, but special precautions should be taken with trucks. Individuals in passenger vehicles are at a higher risk for injury in these accidents. Do not drive in a vehicle’s blind spots and never tailgate or ride next to trucks for an extended period of time. If you are in front of one on the road, check that a safe distance is between the back of your car and the front of the truck. Brake early to warn the driver, and keep an eye on your rearview mirror to ensure the truck is also slowing.
Before you pass, observe the cargo on the trailer and make sure it looks secure. Also ensure the truck is not drifting into another lane before going by. Try not to pass on a sharp curve, as the trailer may tip or loose contents may fall. Dangerous road conditions, such as rain or snow, always call for alert driving, as well. Always allow more stopping space in front of you and braking room behind you. Be aware if there are strong gusts of wind, as they can tip over a top-heavy trailer.
Trucks are on the road day and night in all areas of the country. While we never want to hear about truck-related accidents, they are inevitable. If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident involving a truck, contact us at Joe Lopez Law. We are experienced in personal injury law and can explore legal options with you.