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How Dangerous Are 18-Wheelers?

Many drivers have experienced the feeling of borderline terror while being boxed in by several 18-wheelers on a freeway. These 18-wheelers are many times larger than most other vehicles on the roadway. Frequently the drivers are tired, overworked and focused more on their schedule than the vehicles around them. These factors can result in dangerous, even disastrous, consequences.

Statistics

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the number of fatal trucking accidents has stayed relatively consistent over the years. In 1975, the Department reported 3,722 fatal crashes. That number rose to 4,841 in 1985 and fell back down to 4,533 in 2005. Semi-truck accidents kill thousands of Americans each year and no number of safety measures seems capable of stopping this trend.

Lawsuits

Trucking lawsuits typically involve high profile law firms and high dollar commercial trucking insurance policies. They also frequently involve a death or a significant personal injury. These claims usually end up in federal court if the two drivers live in different states. Both sides can spend large sums of money and time obtaining documents and questioning witnesses about every aspect of the accident. Truck drivers must follow many federal rules and regulations and this creates additional layers of paperwork to be examined.

Defensive Driving

Although truck drivers, because of their training and instruction, should be capable of controlling their vehicles, other motorists must drive defensively to minimize their chances of being involved in an accident. Motorists should avoid driving in a trucker’s blind spot. Although visibility for trucks varies somewhat by model and mirror placement, a motorist can assume that a truck driver cannot see the motorist’s vehicle if the motorist cannot see the truck driver. Drivers should therefore pass 18-wheelers as quickly as possible to minimize time in the truck’s blind spot. These 18-wheelers pose even more significant threats on narrower country roads and during evening hours. On narrow roads, the trucks may cross the center lane into opposing traffic, especially on curves. At night, drivers may be more fatigued after a long day of driving. Minds may wander or the driver may become engrossed by a favorite radio program or the thought of getting home to his family. Motorists are advised to drive even more defensively at night and to give 18-wheelers extra room. Motorists must accept the inevitability of driving beside these large dangerous vehicles. Each year, 18-wheelers log over 222 million miles on U.S. roadways. As of 2005, over 8.4 million large trucks were registered nationwide. These trucks are everywhere. Motorists can focus on driving defensively but can do little else to avoid the danger.

Peter Wendt writes and researches from his home in Austin, TX. He spends a lot of time on the country’s most dangerous highways. When he was hit by a truck, he turned to The S.E. Farris Law Firm and got the legal support he needed.


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