Safely Sharing the Road with Semis

A semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and is 70-80 feet long. If involved in an accident these massive vehicles can create extensive damage. For this reason, it is important to understand the difficulties of driving a semi for those driving them and for those driving alongside them.

According to Mark Baumgartner, Writer for ABC, “Driving a truck was the most hazardous occupation in the United States last year, according to the government’s latest workplace fatality census, which also said highway accidents were the leading cause of deaths of workers in all lines of work.” “More truck drivers were fatally injured on the job, 852, than workers in any other single occupation.”

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the NHTSA estimated that, “there were approximately 120,000 fatal and injury crashes nationwide during [their] 33-month study period that involved at least one large truck.”
There are many factors that could go into causing a semi accident but the most common causes of truck accidents include Equipment failure, driving errors by the drivers, and trucking company policies. Large trucks have many parts working together to ensure it functions properly, if one malfunctions, no matter how small, the end result could be disastrous. Some of the most common driving errors include driving fatigued, overloading the truck or loading improperly, and driving under the influence. Trucking company policies such as impractical schedules pressure drivers to work long hours. The recent increase in expressed shipping has put more strain on drivers to rush their cargo to the designated location. All of these causes together create the large statistics of truck accidents per year.

The US Department of Transportation rated the top unsafe acts for drivers sharing the road with a semi-truck:

1. Driving inattentively (e.g., reading, talking on the phone, fatigue-induced)

  1. Merging improperly into traffic, causing a truck to maneuver or brake quickly
  2. Failure to stop for a stop sign or light (also, early or late through a signal)
  3. Failure to slow down in a construction zone
  4. Unsafe speed (e.g., approaching too fast from the rear/misjudging truck’s speed)
  5. Following too closely
  6. Failure to slow down in response to environmental conditions (e.g., fog, rain, smoke, bright sun)
  7. Changing lanes abruptly in front of a truck
  8. Driving in the “no zones” (left rear quarter, right front quarter, and directly behind)
  9. Unsafe turning, primarily turning with insufficient headway”

A semi has large blind spots, a 55ft turning radius and takes 40% longer than a car to reach a complete stop. It is important that those sharing the road with trucks to understand these differences and act accordingly. It is crucial that drivers stay patient, stay alert, stay out of semi’s blind spots, and pass with caution.
WWF&G has worked through many cases involving semi accidents.  If you or someone you know is involved in a trucking accident WWF&G can help. We work on a contingency basis meaning you won’t owe us anything unless we help you recover compensation.  Don’t wait to contact our office at 618.462.1077 for a free consultation