Any accident involving a car or automobile is dangerous; these are objects which move at high speeds, can carry multiple passengers, and are made of a material with the potential to do a lot of harm. Even a simple car accident can be fatal or leave the parties involved with permanent, life-changing injuries.
When a truck is involved, any accident has the potential to be even more catastrophic, with a higher number of possible victims and more severe injuries. This is mainly due to their physical makeup and means that anyone responsible for driving a truck needs to take extra care.
Just why are truck accidents so much more deadly? There are a few key reasons:
Most semi-trucks are, on average, around 20 times heavier than the average car. If a truck meets a car in an accident, the smaller car will come off far worse, and the passengers of that vehicle are far more likely to be killed or seriously injured. Also, the heavier weight of trucks means that their braking distance is far greater than a car. It takes them longer to stop, and so any situations involving tailgating or speeding have the potential to be deadly. If a truck rear-ends a smaller vehicle in front of them, whether through failing to stop, speeding, or a wet road surface, the consequences can be catastrophic. The increased weight also means that acceleration is reduced, making it more dangerous to merge or pull out in front of traffic. Trucks need a lot of space, and other road users may not have time to slow down to make space unless adequate warning and signals are given.
As a rule, trucks are top-heavy, meaning that the increased weight is distributed less evenly. They are also more unstable, so a high wind, heavy load, or sudden turn could cause the truck to sway, roll or swerve. An unsecured load is also more dangerous, as it is further for it to fall. The route also needs to be planned carefully, as many overpasses and bridges have strict height limits and restrictions; you need to ensure that there is adequate clearance for a truck to pass through. Navigation and GPS systems may not be updated, so it is crucial that drivers double-check the route before leaving; hitting a bridge can impact traffic traveling behind, cause serious damage to the bridge, or shear the top of the truck.
As well as being taller, trucks are longer than other vehicles. This creates blind spots, known as ‘no-zones,’ which appear both in front and behind the truck, as well as one on either side. In these areas, the visibility of drivers is limited, and accidents most commonly occur in these blind spots. Precautions such as clear signals and allowing plenty of time and space can reduce the chance of accidents. Trucks also need more space to turn and move due to an increased length – this can sometimes take car drivers by surprise.