Protect yourself From Deadly Truck Accidents

By: Matthew Candelaria
Every year in Florida, nearly 400 people are killed in accidents with large trucks and nearly 6000 are injured, many seriously. Of course, the word "accident" is deceptive. Accident implies that no one is at fault, but in truth there are very few true accidents. Most of the time, someone is responsible for causing the circumstances that led to the crash, and too often auto drivers are just as responsible for the wreck as the trucker. But if you want to avoid becoming part of these unfortunate statistics, there are a number of things you can do.

Respect Space

Successful driving is mostly a matter of negotiating the space around your vehicle and others on the road. Be aware that semis and other large trucks need more space than other vehicles. Most importantly, respect the space in front of a large truck. Large trucks need more distance for braking than other vehicles, as much as half again the distance. At 55 mph, a car on a dry road with good brakes can stop in about 200 feet, while a large truck requires about 300 feet. That means that if you have to slam on your brakes to stop, and you are less than 100 feet in front of a large truck, that truck may hit you. On wet days, a large truck may require as much as half a mile to come to a full stop at highway speeds, as much as 1000 feet more than a car.

Do not forget that large trucks also require a significant amount of space when turning. Give them a wide berth if you are turning at the same time, and, most importantly, anticipate and respect the need for a wide right turn.

Be Observant

You can do a lot to avoid a deadly crash with an 18-wheeler if you simply pay attention to traffic. If you can anticipate traffic hazards before coming to them, you can greatly reduce the chances that you will be involved in an accident. If you have to brake suddenly, the semi truck behind you might also have to brake suddenly, but if you can anticipate possible hazards, you can deal with them more gradually, allowing you and the semi truck behind you to adjust to the conditions.

Be observant of semi trucks and anticipate their movements, because they may not be able to respond to you. This applies not only on the highway, but on city streets as well. Be aware of the entire length of the truck. Ideally, the truck should have lights and reflectors along its entire length, but in many cases, they become dirt obscured or damaged, making them hard to see at night. Hitting the side of a truck trailer can lead to one of the most deadly forms of truck accidents, the underride, in which the chassis of your car passes under the chassis of the truck, causing the entire force of the impact to be borne by the car's windshield and upper pillars, which are unprepared to handle such force.

Be Visible

18-wheelers and other large trucks have significant blind spots. If they cannot see you, they are more likely to hit you. Always make sure that you are in a place where you are highly visible to the truck driver. Do not linger in blind spots behind or to the side of large trucks. In addition, be sure to use your lights whenever the conditions are other than full bright daylight, including fog, rain, snow, and twilight.

Many accidents can be attributed to overly aggressive driving. In many cases, you can avoid an accident by simply making space for a merging vehicle and not trying to pass too closely to other vehicles. Courtesy will go a long way toward making the road safer for everyone.

The Hinge of Fate

However, sometimes no matter what you do, you are involved in a crash with a heavy truck. This can be a true accident in rare cases, but more often it is the result of someone else not doing his or her part to keep the road safe. Many times, this person is related to the trucking company, whether it is the driver who should have been paying more attention, the maintenance crew that should have maintained the truck's brakes, or the loader that should have been more careful securing the cargo.

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