If involved in a crash or collision with a large commercial truck, the drivers and passengers of smaller personal vehicles are likely to suffer serious or fatal injuries. For this reason, the commercial trucking industry takes safety very seriously and is one of the most regulated of all U.S. industries. Given the high stakes involved when a semi truck is involved in an accident, truck drivers are often signaled out and unfairly targeted as being at fault. In reality, in the vast percentage of truck accidents, drivers of passenger vehicles are at fault.
Based upon an analysis by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute of more than 8,300 fatal truck and car crashes, in 81 percent of cases, researchers determined that the drivers of personal vehicles were at fault in causing the accidents.
While much media attention is given to the subjects of truck driver fatigue and doctored driving log records, more often than naught, truck accidents are caused by drivers of cars who fail to safely share the road with large trucks. Due to their considerable size and weight, commercial trucks are more difficult to maneuver, slow and stop. In cases where the driver of a car darts in front of a truck and slams on his or her brakes, a truck’s braking reaction time is much slower than that of a personal vehicle.
Additionally, much like the driver of a car has blind spots, so too does a driver of a large commercial truck. The difference, however, is that a truck driver’s blind spots encompass much larger areas. For example, a truck driver cannot see a vehicle that is traveling directly in front of or behind a truck. Additionally, areas directly to the driver and passenger side door of a truck are blind spots as is the entire right-hand passenger side of a truck. In cases where a driver chooses to drive in these blind spots, his or her vehicle is not visible to a truck driver who may reduce speed or signal a lane change.
Any traffic accident that results in the serious injury or death of a driver or passenger is tragic. In cases where a large commercial truck is involved, the entire industry often comes under fire. As in any traffic accident, it’s important to avoid speculation and instead closely examine the facts and evidence.
Source: FindLaw.com, “Common Causes of Truck Accidents,” April 16, 2015