There are approximately 3.5 million truck drivers in the U.S. alone—we share the road with them daily, be it on an extended road trip or a quick excursion to the mall. Essentially if you’re near or on a highway, there’s almost a guarantee you’ll see at least one semi—on that note, it’s necessary to understand a few things about them in order to safely share the road with them. And if you happen to be in an accident with a semi-truck, it’s even more important that you know at least some of what goes into truck driving and liability.
- Be aware of their blind spots.
Truck drivers are highly aware that they have areas in the front, behind, and on both sides of their rig where they’re unable to see other drivers around them. The smaller the vehicle, the harder it is to see, which leads to many blindspot accidents.
As a motorist potentially driving around semis, be careful to stay out of those blindspots where a truck driver has less of a chance of seeing you.
- They take longer to stop.
Large trucks can take up to 40% more distance to stop than a passenger car or pickup truck—and weather or brake maintenance can factor into that stopping distance in a big way as well. Add in the perception level and reaction time of the driver and the final equation could spell trouble.
The ultimate braking distance of the truck is what usually leads to truck crashes—in a perfect world, a truck can take 216 feet to come to a complete stop if conditions are ideal and the truck is only going 55 miles per hours. Empty trucks require even more stopping distance than ones carrying loads. That being said, speeding up or allowing a truck to pass you may reduce the chances of a wreck due to a sudden stop.
- Truck drivers are rarely injured in a wreck with a passenger car.
A person is killed or injured in a truck accident in the United States every 16 minutes. When you consider that your typical semi vs. car weight ratio is 80,000 pounds against 5,000 pounds, that’s not so surprising. Laws of physics say that the 80,000 lb semi would come out of that wreck much better than the 5,000 passenger car. That being said, severe injury and loss of life are likely for a car that wrecks with a semi and, on the flip side, a truck driver being injured in a crash with a car is pretty unlikely unless the truck rolls over in the crash.
- They’re held to a higher driving standard and are required to have commercial liability policies.
Truck drivers have to follow traffic laws like everyone else, but there are also truck-specific safety rules in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, which pertain to each driver’s hours for being on the road, maintenance standards, driving in bad weather, and so on.
These safety regulations also require that the truck driver and the company at large be covered by commercial liability insurance of at least $750,000, which increases depending on what’s being transported. As a general practice, large trucking companies usually have multiple insurance policies, typically with one million-dollar base policy and layers of extra insurance atop that.
- And most companies will train their drivers on what to do (and what not to do) after a wreck.
Most companies have procedures in place for their drivers to learn and follow if they’re involved in an accident—particularly where someone has been injured. The bottom line of all the handbooks and training many drivers receive for these instances is for the driver to not admit fault or give any statements to third parties at the scene of the accident. Many companies also require that drivers fill out intracompany forms and provide photographs, evidence that covers details on the other drivers involved, a short statement, and any known witnesses.
Some companies also have a “quick response team” in place to be dispatched at the scene of an accident shortly after it takes place if there’s concern of a potential liability issue.
If you or a loved one have been the victim of a trucking accident, put a fighter on your side. Your case is important – don't settle for less. Contact us for a free evaluation today.