Driving on the highway can be monotonous. Your cruise control is on and it’s mile after mile of the same scenery. It’s easy to let your guard down. But even if you’re mentally fatigued, it’s important to be alert to the danger posed by 18 wheelers.
When a passenger vehicle gets into an accident with a massive truck, your odds of coming out unscathed are not good. Accidents involving 18 wheelers and busses per year in the U.S. on average. It’s important to know the risks involved when sharing the road with large vehicles.
The most dangerous part about accidents between passenger vehicles and 18 wheelers is the size differential. While the average car weighs about 3,400 pounds, a truck loaded with good can weigh up to 20 to 30 times as much. The momentum and force while traveling at highway speeds are recipe for destruction.
With so much force behind them, it takes a fully-loaded 18 wheeler 20 to 40 percent farther to stop than cars. If the conditions are poor – slippery roads, poorly maintained brakes – it could take a large truck even farther to stop.
While federal guidelines restrict the number of hours truckers can drive at a time, studies have shown that many drivers go over their allotted hours to meet deadlines. Fatigue from being on the road too long can impair a driver’s judgement and affect reaction time. A tired truck driver is a dangerous truck driver.
The design of 18 wheelers intrinsically reduces the driver’s range of vision. With large blind spots in the front, in the rear and on the sides of 18 wheelers, it’s important to give them plenty of space.
It’s important that you remain visible to the truck driver. This includes giving them extra room and being sure never to cut off or tailgate an 18 wheeler. When you must pass a large truck, always do so on the left. If you need to pull over on the highway, move as far off the road as possible to avoid a truck hitting your parked car. And while you should never drive distracted, this is even more important around 18 wheelers.
If, however, you are in an accident with an 18 wheeler, you may consider seeking legal representation. In an accident with a commercial vehicle, liability is different than in a crash involving two passenger vehicles. You may be owed compensation for any injuries you suffer and damage to your property.