In 2014, nearly 4,000 fatalities occurred on the highways as a result of accidents involving a commercial truck. And, according to the National Traffic Safety Institute (NTSI), over 200,000 collisions involving at least one passenger car and a large truck happen annually in the United States. These large machines are hazardous, even in the hands of the safest drivers. Should you be unfortunate enough to be involved in an auto accident with a commercial truck driver, you have the right to develop a case against the driver of the vehicle, but also the trucking company or owner of the vehicle.
Safety Limits for Commercial Truck Drivers
The operators of commercial motor vehicles who have a commercial driver’s license are obligated to follow driving limits as set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). As such, they should:
- Not drive more than 10 to 11 hours consecutively.
- Take mandatory rest breaks.
- Cannot have more than a 60-70-hour work week.
- Sleep for eight hours consecutively before driving again.
- Drive no more than 14 to 15 hours total after 8 to 10 hours off duty.
Accountability is a stable for managing commercial drivers, and those with a CDL license and related occupation must maintain time logs that indicate when they have driven and when they have taken breaks. Third party lawsuits rely on these time logs when it is necessary to prove that a driver went over their mandatory limits for awake time or driving time. This choice results in being blamed for negligently operating a commercial motor vehicle.
Drive Defensively Around Commercial Motor Vehicles
While it would be easy to blame all accidents with commercial truck drivers on the operator of the larger vehicle, more than 60 percent of all fatal collisions involving automobile and large trucks note that the driver of the automobile contributed to the cause of the collision, says NTSI.
- Stay out of blind spots: Commercial trucks, by default, have large blind spots. Just because you can see them doesn’t mean they can see you. So it’s up to car operators to make themselves known and drive defensively and safely around commercial trucks.
- Pass safely: Large commercial trucks are much longer than a car and simply take longer to pass. Be sure to maintain a constant speed as you pass, and make certain of the room on the road ahead especially on rural roads. Do not pull back in front of the commercial vehicle until you can see the front of their cab in your rearview mirror. And remember, passing is not an excuse for reckless driving – your speed should not exceed the posted speed limit while passing.
- Do not tailgate: Some drivers think that aggressive driving is the only way to compete with commercial truck drivers for space on the road. Everyone has to follow the laws of the road, and there will be no excuse for antagonizing a truck driver by tailgating or using high beams. These passive-aggressive moves on the part of an automobile driver can have catastrophic results. Maintain at least a minimum of a four-second following distance.
- Give trucks extra space when turning: Commercial trucks simply need extra space when making a turn. Never try to squeeze by a truck before it completes its turn. Tragedy has struck and will strike again – the truck could drive over the top of your vehicle.
- Don’t cut in between trucks: Do not position your car in between two large vehicles. This puts you in both trucks’ blind spots, which exist on the side, rear, and front of the trucks, and you may be forced into the truck on the other side of you if one truck shifts lanes. Your best strategy for driving around commercial vehicles and minimizing the chance of being involved in an accident with a big truck is to simply stay away from them.
If you are involved in an accident with a semi-truck, contact your personal injury attorney immediately to get support for your case.