According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2.0 million trucks or large trucks like box trucks, 18 wheelers, and tractor-trailers are involved in traffic accidents annually. Of those accidents, almost all of them resulted in fatalities.
The NHTSA also reports that approximately 573,000 truck drivers are on US roads daily. Of this number, an average of thousands of people die every year while being struck by one of these vehicles. The majority of victims killed had the right of way when a speeding semi-truck struck them.
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After an Accident Occurs
If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a collision with a big rig, it can cause severe injury or even death. Truck drivers are often distracted, fatigued, and experience sleep apnea which makes them unable to drive safely. You will undoubtedly need help after a truck accident from the point of impact to recovery if you survive the accident.
So what can you do if you’ve been involved in an accident with a semi-truck? The first step is contacting the police to report the accident. If there are injuries, contact emergency services immediately. Make notes about your surroundings at the crash scene because this information will be important later when determining liability. Record the name, location, phone number of witnesses who saw what happened. Write down their statement as well. Even though it doesn’t seem like it now, this information could be helpful when filing your personal injury claim against the truck driver’s insurance company. It may also help to get in touch with a law firm specializing in individual injury cases. They will be able to answer any questions you have about the accident, advise you of your rights, and represent you while negotiating for damages.
If you suffer from severe injuries after an accident involving a big rig, it may take months or years before you fully recover. You may need surgery, physical therapy, chiropractic care, extended care at home or for an extended period in a rehabilitation facility. Truck drivers are required by law to carry insurance coverage for their employees driving vehicles that exceed 10,000 pounds. If they have not purchased this additional coverage policy, then the insurance company should cover the costs associated with their medical treatment after being injured by their driver. You can also file a personal injury claim for damages against the truck driver, such as medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, and even punitive damages if acting recklessly when the accident occurred.
What is most important to keep in mind is that you do not have to go through any of this alone. You can find help at your local law firm or by contacting an attorney with experience handling these cases.
What Steps is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Taking to Lessen Truck Accidents?
A big step taken by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was to mandate that truck drivers be screened for sleep apnea since it can lead to fatigue and drowsy driving. The use of electronic logs known as ELDs has made it easier for drivers to comply with current hours-of-service rules. With these logs, drivers cannot cover up work time or make any misleading entries about their activities because the data is linked directly back to the truck’s engine.
The NHTSA also started a “Drive Smart” campaign to remind motorists about keeping an eye out for trucks on the road. They want people who are riding in passenger cars or motorcycles to take extra precautions when passing a large vehicle by leaving more space between them and the truck, not getting too close to a truck’s rear or front end, and never passing on the right side because you can’t see what is happening there.
Another good idea is to make sure you are visible when riding your motorcycle by wearing brightly colored protective clothing with reflective elements. If you ride with the flow of traffic, then motorcycles should never be in the car’s blind spot if possible. Never try to squeeze between a big rig and the curb because they take up a whole lane, which means they will travel more slowly than cars. It may seem like drivers have plenty of room when you look from inside your vehicle, but when seen from behind their wheel, things appear differently, so don’t run with them.
The Responsibility of Both Drivers to Keep the Roads Safe
It’s up to every driver to keep an eye out for trucks on the road and take precautions so everyone can get home safely. Truck drivers have a responsibility to obey all traffic laws and always be aware of their surroundings. Drivers in passenger cars should also drive responsibly, not putting other motorists at risk.
When large trucks are driving down the road, it takes them much longer to slow down or stop than other vehicles. They need at least 40 more feet to come to a complete stop because big rigs are much heavier than cars. That means truck drivers should be far ahead of every curve in the road before coming over any hill. But if anything obstructs their view, like another car or construction equipment blocking part of the road, it can be difficult for truckers to know what is ahead.
That is when every driver should keep out of the way. There are also many ways car drivers can help prevent crashes between trucks and their vehicles. These include: always obeying posted speed limits, letting big rigs have enough room on the road to maneuver, so they do not need to come over into your lane, and maintaining a safe distance from trucks at all times.
Sharing the Road
It takes a special kind of person who wants to drive a big rig because there are dangers involved. It takes more on the truck driver’s part because the damage is massive when a collision happens. The truck and trailer become a death warrant with a heavy load if not appropriately handled. But if you wish to drive one of these vehicles to be part of your career, you should take this responsibility very seriously. Being aware of what’s going on around you is critical. Attorneys will go after the trucker and the company they operate for any violations or negligence involved in an accident.
Sharing the road with big rigs is not scary as long as everyone is alert. Accidents are bound to happen, but each has its responsibilities to stay safe and follow the road’s rules.