Summer is synonymous with throwing the windows down and hitting the road. Despite increased costs at the pump, many Americans plan to travel. Unfortunately, summer is one of the most dangerous times to be driving, especially when long-distance travel might increase a person’s encounter with long-haul truckers. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), more than 4,000 fatal accidents involving large trucks or buses occur yearly.
More vehicles on the road during summer means a greater chance of an accident, making June, July, and August the three deadliest months of the year for traffic fatalities. In Louisiana, 2021 highway fatalities increased by 17 percent last year, which is the biggest jump on record. A total of 971 people died in highway accidents compared with 828 the previous year.
Why the risk of an accident increases with semis
Sharing the road with a semi-truck is more dangerous because they have significant blind spots and can’t maneuver as quickly as most cars. And because semi-trucks often weigh up to 80,000 pounds – or 40 tons of weight – it’s easy to see why a collision with a smaller, 2-ton vehicle often turns fatal.
According to the National Safety Council, 4,842 large trucks were involved in a fatal crash in 2020 – a 4 percent decrease from the year before but a 33% increase since 2011. Overall, these vehicles account for 9 percent of all deadly crashes.
And self-driving semis may soon hit the road. Many companies have joined the race to develop the first autonomous semi-trucks that could change the future of shipping. There is no doubt a self-driving semi that can crisscross the country for 17 hours straight would improve efficiency, especially as e-commerce sales skyrocket and a driver shortage persist. Advocates argue that automation makes trucking less safe, especially when there’s no such thing as a fender bender with an 80,000-pound truck. There needs to be indisputable evidence an autonomous truck is safe, otherwise, it puts drivers at increased risk when sharing the road.
Tips to practice safe driving habits
What can you do to share the road safely with semi-trucks? Road safety is everyone’s responsibility. With 12 million large trucks and buses crowding America’s highways, passengers and drivers in cars and small vehicles must remain especially vigilant. These tips from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Our Roads, Our Safety campaign can help drivers be aware of the distinct dangers big rigs pose so everyone can share the road safely.
- Pass safely: Make sure you see the truck driver in the mirror before passing and pulling in front. Never pass on a downgrade or from the right lane.
- Never drive under the influence: Alcohol and drugs impair judgment and reaction time, which is especially dangerous around enormous vehicles.
- Don’t cut it too close: It’s not worth it to cut off a bus or truck. If you move in too quickly, you will likely be in a blind spot.
- Don’t drive fatigued: Driving when you’re too tired can be as dangerous as being under the influence. Take regular breaks or get another driver to take over.
- Always wear a seatbelt: Using safety belts is still one of the most important things you and passengers can do to save lives.
- Stay back: Tailgating puts you in a blind spot, and if you fail to stop in time, your vehicle could slide under a truck.
- Be patient: Because of their size, trucks accelerate more slowly. Driving aggressively can cause a dangerous situation.
- Stay out of blind spots: Large trucks have blind spots on every side. If you can’t see the driver, they probably can’t see you.
- Anticipate wide turns: Buses and trucks swing wide and may even start a turn from a middle lane. Give them plenty of distance at intersections.
- Stay focused: Driving distracted can be fatal. Avoid eating, drinking, adjusting the radio, attending to a text, or doing anything that might take your eyes off the road.
If you were involved in a wreck involving a semi, large truck or bus, or wish to discuss the specifics of your case in a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer who has handled previous large truck cases, please contact us today.