Sharing the road with commercial trucks often means embracing a certain degree of risk. Due to the discrepancy in size between passenger vehicles and commercial vehicles, the risk for severe injuries and catastrophic property damage is always present when these categories of vehicles collide.
Thankfully, there are steps that drivers in control of a passenger vehicles can take to reduce risks. Educating yourself about the three most common causes of commercial truck crashes is an important first step in improving your overall safety when sharing the road with large trucks.
Drifting into another lane is a common issue
Most drivers can recall at least one time in their lives when they got behind the wheel while too tired or distracted to drive safely. Often, these trips could result in crossing the rumble strip on a major road. The loud noise and vibration help alert you to the risk in your driving.
Unfortunately, when drivers cross the center line into oncoming traffic, leave a smaller road or weave into a second lane heading the same direction, there is no warning.
Drifting into another lane is common for commercial drivers, just like for everyone else. Both trucker distraction and exhaustion could factor into these situations. Roughly 32 percent of major truck collisions analyzed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration resulted from a truck driver driving off of the road or into another lane.
Losing control of a commercial truck can be deadly
Anyone who drives knows that it is possible to go faster than is safe in many different situations. Whether there is limited visibility due to fog, slick roads due to precipitation or incredibly heavy traffic, slowing down is often key to safe driving. That can mean drastically increased commute times in certain weather conditions.
Unfortunately, truck drivers have deadlines to meet. They may travel at higher speeds than they should for weather, road or traffic conditions. This issue is responsible for another 29 percent of collisions caused by commercial trucks.
Rear end collisions are another real concern
Massive, heavy commercial trucks take longer to stop than other vehicles on the road. Too many drivers fail to take this into account when they merge or change lanes.
When you cut into the road in front of a commercial truck, you run the risk of them not being able to stop in time, resulting in a serious collision. Another 22 percent of collisions involving commercial trucks were the result of a rear end collision where a commercial truck hits the back of a passenger vehicle in front of it.
Roughly four out of every five crashes involve one of these three risk factors. Awareness of these risk factors, as well as the limitations of commercial vehicles on the roadway, can help keep you and your passengers safe on the road.