When a truck crashes into a car, the car usually doesn’t stand a chance due to size alone. Often, this results in serious injuries for the occupants of the car. Data from the US Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) will bear this out.
Of 4,102 people who died in large truck crashes in 2017, FARS said 68% of the victims were passengers of cars and other smaller vehicles. The most common vehicles involved in car crashes were tractor-trailers (74%) and single-unit trucks (25%). Here are other findings from the same report:
- 52% of deaths in large truck crashes occurred on major roads, while 32% happened on interstates and freeways
- 49% of accidents occurred from 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
- 31% of the victims died following a head-on collision, while 25% were hit from the side
- 22% of deaths happened when the front of the passenger vehicle hit the rear of the truck
FARS pointed out that people in smaller vehicles are vulnerable to this type of accident because trucks are 20 to 30 times heavier (from 12,000 to 80,000 pounds) and taller than passenger cars. Because tractor-trailers are heavier, they also take longer to stop than other vehicles. This is even more the case when the tractor-trailer is loaded and on wet and slippery roads.
Truck driver fatigue is another known crash risk. Federal law allows truck drivers to drive up to 11 hours at a stretch, which can be a challenge if one is tired. Further, many drivers violate existing regulations and work longer than permitted by law, creating additional hazards.
To minimize accidents and the loss of lives, follow these tips:
1. Keep your distance
Don’t rely solely on your brakes to save you from an accident. It’s wise to keep a safe distance away from the truck so you can react quickly and stop the car in case something happens.
2. Don’t pass a truck on the right
This increases your chances of meeting an accident. Remember that trucks usually have larger blind spots on the right side, making it difficult for drivers to see an average-sized car.
3. Don’t stop suddenly in front of a truck
Making a sudden stop in front of a thousand-pound vehicle is dangerous and should be avoided as much as possible.
4. Never park behind a truck
Don’t put the truck driver in a tight spot by blocking his path. Parking behind a truck is unwise since your vehicle will sustain more damage if the former suddenly backs up. Give the truck the space it needs to avoid trouble.
5. Leave your phone alone
Texting or making calls while driving is a bad habit that should be avoided at all costs. Taking your eyes off the road even for a minute can have dire consequences. Hold off calls and texting until you’re parked safely. This rule goes for all accidents, not just trucking accidents.
6. Don’t race with a truck
If a big rig tries to overtake you, give way and let it pass. The idea of getting behind a slow truck can be irritating or annoying, but racing to get ahead is dangerous. This often results in deadly accidents and personal injury.
7. Never drive between trucks
Ignore what you’ve seen in The Fast and the Furious movies! Don’t drive between trucks since they take up a lot of space and you don’t want to get boxed in by these behemoths. Stick to your own lane and arrive alive.
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