While they play a vital role in transporting goods throughout the U.S., large commercial trucks can also be extremely dangerous and, during 2014 alone, 3,660 people were killed in traffic accidents involving large trucks. During this same year, 97 percent of the individuals who died in fatal truck accidents were occupants in passenger vehicles.
While the trucking industry is governed by numerous federal and state rules and regulations aimed to improve safety, some trucking companies and individual truck drivers routinely disregard such rules. Consequently, drivers may fail to complete drug screens and work long hours with little sleep and trucking companies may fail to properly inspect and maintain their vehicle fleets.
For the average driver, navigating around a large big-rig can be a nerve-racking experience and for good reason as the average loaded commercial truck can outweigh a passenger vehicle by as much as 40 times. While, unfortunately, drivers of passenger vehicles are largely at the mercy of truck drivers who act in a dangerous or reckless manner, there are ways that drivers can decrease the likelihood of being involved in a truck accident.
First, drivers of passenger vehicles must be aware of some of the challenges and limitations with which truck drivers must contend on a daily basis. Due to a commercial truck's considerable size, a driver is encumbered on all sides by several large blind spots. Therefore, vehicles that are directly in front or back of a truck as well as on either side are not visible to a truck driver. Additionally, it's important to understand that, after applying the brakes, it can take twice as long for a large truck to come to a stop. Therefore, when traveling in front of a truck, drivers in passenger vehicles would be wise to avoid hard breaking.
Drivers should also always use extreme caution and signal their movements when attempting to pass a truck. Additionally, drivers should never attempt to race in front of a truck that is signaling a lane change or fail to allow a truck driver to merge. Essentially, when it comes to sharing the road with large trucks, the laws of physics apply and the odds are always stacked in a truck driver's favor.
Source: Esurance, "sharing the road with large trucks," March 2, 2016
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute, "Large Trucks," March 2, 2016