While commercial vehicles such as cargo trucks and big-box delivery trucks are commonplace on Florida highways, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be held responsible for a high percentage of devastating car accidents happening more often with every passing year. When we see these large freighters, most of the time we keep driving, desensitized to their place on our busy roads. Children may even wave to drivers, fascinated by the large machinery!
It should be clear: safe driving practices are anything but child’s play, and everyone’s responsibility. It becomes a public safety hazard when other drivers haven’t familiarized themselves with, or simply choose to ignore the rules of the road when finding themselves sharing it with a large truck.
Truck accidents are once again on the rise in large commuter cities like Miami, in South Florida where drivers are in a hurry, and trucking carriers are understaffed for the amount that needs to be hauled long distances on a deadline. This means the training for trucking operators that’s necessary to ensure safety standards are being upheld can carelessly fall by the wayside.
Florida’s increasing amount of truck accidents shouldn’t be common; safe road practices should be
For something so common, it’s unsettling how truck accidents seem to be on the rise in places like South Florida, where most of us utilize the highway and Florida’s turnpike on a regular basis. New drivers and those new to the state may be the exception to being unfamiliar with large trucks and how to safely share the road with them.
However, this article will begin to explain in detail what even the most experienced driver should be reminded of when they take to the road for school, work, or heading out for a good time at one of our beautiful Miami beaches. Truck accidents caused by drivers are on the rise in busy, populated cities like Miami, New York, and LA, where everyone is always in a hurry. No matter where we’re going, we want to arrive alive and unharmed at our destination, so it’s important to slow down and keep our eyes on the road.
Floridians should break unsafe driving habits before accidents occur
There’s an endless amount of unsafe driving habits we find ourselves involved in almost every day. Here, we’ll go over a few so we can more fully understand the dangers of what often appear to be our seemingly harmless driving “sins”:
- Getting into truck driver’s blind spots: most of the time these are the areas behind and on either side of the commercial truck. In these areas the driver has limited, low, or even no visibility. This type of error in judgement makes it dangerous for both the passenger vehicle and the truck driver.
- Drivers who fail to slow down (or speed up!): when a truck signals its intent to change lanes or merge, we must act quickly according to what’s going on around us. Trucks are very large and need ample space to maneuver safely in and out of lanes (assuming they properly signal their intent as well). Drivers in small cars should be aware of this necessity. Part of being a safe driver is keeping eyes on the road and off of distractions such as cell phones, make up, or bags of food. Something as simple as answering the phone or typing out a text can be fatal. That’s why new laws, specifically in the state of Florida, have now been enacted to not only discourage but outright ban texting and driving by fining those who break the law.
- Changing lanes without signaling while in front of a truck: this driving “sin” is one of the most fatal, yet also most overlooked habits drivers have on the road. Changing lanes to get in front of a truck without signaling such an intent from the proper distance away can cause accidents resulting in catastrophic injuries. Trying to force ones’ way in front of a truck without properly signaling forces the truck driver to break when there may not be enough time to do so safely. This can cause damage to other cars on the road and puts else at-risk for serious car accident injuries.
- Driving between trucks. This is not only a scary occurrence for many drivers but can put the driver of the smaller car in grave danger. Safe drivers know to keep with the speed limit, follow the rules of the road, and avoid any outcome of having trucks on either side of them whenever possible.
In our FMCSA and FMCSR write ups (found in our Motor Carrier Safety series), we explored at-length how truck drivers are required to maintain their trucks and uphold the rules of the road according to federal standards laid out for them by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Deadlines can have deadly consequences, so can lack of proper truck driver training
Now, let’s look at several ways in which truck drivers could be found at-fault for road related accidents.
- Employers that push impossible deadlines: sometimes, trucking carriers push their operators to break the law in order to meet a deadline and avoid fines or penalties for lateness. This encouragement to break the law can include overlooking regulations surrounding adequate sleep, taking away time off between shifts, and disregarding proper maintenance of the truck. Occasionally trucking carriers are so desperate to fill operator positions in order to meet deadlines, that they neglect training drivers properly for the job they’re being hired to do. A truck driver’s proper handling of the truck is one of, if not the most important part of their job.
- Employers fail to properly train, retrain skilled drivers: safety concerns arise when employers are more concerned with the bottom line than public safety, and that of their employees. Accidents most occur when a driver hasn’t met the proper training requirements to perform his or her job, or an employer is consistently hiring new drivers rather than retaining the skilled drivers that are already employed.
Florida’s drivers must make safety, not cell phones their priority on the road
Whether driving a large commercial vehicle or a passenger car such as a sedan, as drivers we all need to remember that nothing is worth trying to beat the traffic by performing dangerous road maneuvers to get to our destination faster. It’s never safe to answer a text or phone call, eat, or turn around to talk to the kids while handling a vehicle. Becoming angry enough to cut another driver off, resulting in road rage accidents should also be avoided. Abiding by the rules of the road, especially when sharing it with large trucks on Florida’s highways should be something we all do our part to remain diligent with every day.