Truck Accidents Are a Common but Avoidable Problem: Here’s Why (And How!)
Truck accidents are once again on the rise in big cities like South Florida where commuters are in a hurry, and trucking carriers are understaffed. This means trucking operator training can carelessly fall by the wayside.
While commercial vehicles such as cargo trucks and big-box delivery trucks are commonplace on the road, that doesn’t mean they’re not responsible for a high percentage of motor vehicle accidents every year. When we see them, most of the time we keep driving, desensitized to their place in our society. It becomes a public safety hazard when other drivers aren’t familiar with, or ignore, the rules of the road when sharing it almost daily with large trucks.
Truck accidents shouldn’t be common, but safe driving 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 seek to explain what even the most experienced driver should be reminded of when they take to the road whether for school, work, or heading out for a good time. Truck accidents caused by drivers are on the rise in busy, populated cities like Miami, where everyone is always in a hurry.
Unsafe driving habits must be broken
There is a plethora of unsafe driving habits we find ourselves accustomed to every day. Let’s look at just a few so we might better understand the dangers of what often appear to be harmless driving “sins”:
- Getting into a truck driver’s blind spots: most of the time these are the areas behind and on either side of the commercial vehicle. In these zones the driver has limited or even no visibility, making it dangerous for both the passenger vehicle and the truck driver.
- Drivers occasionally fail to slow down (or speed up!): when a truck signals its intent to change lanes or merge. Trucks are very large and need ample space to maneuver safely. Drivers in cars should be aware of this. Part of being a safe driver is keeping ones’ eyes on the road at all times. Something as simple as answer the phone or sending a text can be deadly. That’s why laws, specifically in South Florida, have been enacted to not only discourage but outright ban texting and driving.
- Changing lanes without signaling while in front of a truck: this is one of the deadliest, yet also most overlooked things drivers do on the road. Changing lanes to get in front of a truck without signaling from the proper distance away or trying to force ones’ way in front of a truck forces the truck driver to break when there may not be enough time to safely do so. This can cause great harm to other cars on the road and puts everyone around them at-risk for serious injuries.
- No likes to think about this one, but it happens frequently: driving between trucks. This is not only scary for many drivers but can put the driver of the smaller car in great danger. Safe drivers know to keep with the speed limit, follow the rules of the road, and avoid having trucks on either side of them at all costs.
In our FMCSA and FMCSR write ups (found in our Motor Carrier Safety series), we delved in at-length and laid out how truck drivers are required to maintain their trucks and abide by the rules of the road according to the federal standards set forth for them by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Deadlines can have deadly consequences, lack of training can cost lives
Briefly, let’s look at several ways truck drivers are sometimes at-fault for road-related accidents.
- Employers that push deadlines have deadly consequences: sometimes, trucking carriers push their drivers to break the law. This can include disregarding regulations surrounding adequate sleep, time off between shifts, and proper maintenance of their truck. Occasionally trucking carriers are so desperate to fill positions to meet deadlines that they neglect training their drivers properly for the job they’re being employed to do. A truck driver’s handling of the truck is one of, if not the most important part of the job.
- Employers fail to properly train or retrain drivers: safety concerns arise when employers are more concerned with the bottom line than the safety of the public, and of their employees. Accidents can and do occur frequently when a driver hasn’t met the proper training requirements to perform his or her job.
Safety on the road is everyone’s concern
Whether you’re driving a large commercial vehicle or a passenger car such as a sedan. We all need to remember that nothing is worth trying to beat the traffic by performing dangerous road maneuvers nor is answering a text, turning around to talk to the kids, or becoming angry enough to cut another driver off. Abiding by the rules of the road, especially when sharing it with large trucks, should be something we’re all conscious of and make an effort to fully understand.