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Tractor-Trailer Accidents, Tractor-Trailer, Tractor-Trailer Accident

Understanding and Preventing Tractor-Trailer Accidents!

Feb 7, 2024 | Blog

Understanding and Preventing Tractor-Trailer Accidents!

Tractor-trailers, also known as semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, or big rigs, are the lifeblood of commerce, transporting goods across vast distances.

However, their imposing size and weight make them potential hazards on the road, particularly when involved in accidents with smaller vehicles.

Understanding the common causes of these accidents and adopting safety measures can significantly reduce the risk of catastrophic outcomes.

This comprehensive guide explores the predominant factors leading to tractor-trailer accidents and offers actionable advice for sharing the road safely.

Common Causes of Tractor-Trailer Accidents

Driver Fatigue

Despite strict regulations limiting driving hours, driver fatigue remains a leading cause of tractor-trailer accidents. The monotonous long hours on the road can lead to decreased alertness and reaction times, making it difficult for drivers to respond to sudden changes in traffic conditions or emergencies.

Equipment Failure

Tractor-trailers require meticulous maintenance due to their complex machinery and heavy usage. Failure to properly maintain brakes, tires, lights, and other critical components can lead to malfunctions that may cause accidents. Tire blowouts, brake failures, and steering issues are particularly notorious for leading to serious incidents.

Poor Weather Conditions

Adverse weather conditions, such as rain, snow, ice, and fog, can significantly increase the risk of accidents involving tractor-trailers. These vehicles require longer distances to stop, and slippery or reduced-visibility conditions can make it challenging for drivers to control their rigs effectively.

Improper Loading

The way cargo is loaded onto a tractor-trailer can greatly affect its handling and stability. Improperly secured or unevenly distributed loads can cause trailers to sway or tip over, especially during turns or sudden maneuvers. Overloading is also a common issue, which not only strains the vehicle’s mechanics but can lead to loss of control.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving affects drivers of all vehicle types, including tractor-trailers. Texting, using in-cab technology, eating, or any activity that diverts attention from the road can have fatal consequences due to the delayed response time and the inability to take corrective action promptly.

Speeding and Aggressive Driving

The pressure to meet delivery deadlines can sometimes lead to speeding or aggressive driving behaviors. Given their mass, tractor-trailers require significantly longer distances to stop compared to passenger vehicles, making high-speed driving particularly dangerous.

Staying Safe on the Road: Tips for Passenger Vehicle Drivers

Keep a Safe Distance

Maintain a safe following distance when behind a tractor-trailer. This provides you with more time to react if the truck makes a sudden stop or maneuver. A good rule of thumb is to allow at least one second of following time for every 10 feet of vehicle length at speeds under 40 mph, with an additional second if traveling faster.

Be Visible

Tractor-trailers have large blind spots on all four sides, known as “No Zones.” Avoid lingering in these areas, and ensure you can see the truck driver in their side mirror. If you cannot see the driver, they likely cannot see you.

Overtake Safely

When passing a tractor-trailer, do so quickly and safely to minimize time spent in the blind spot. Always pass on the left where the driver’s blind spot is smaller, and never cut in front of a truck abruptly as it requires a longer distance to stop.

Be Cautious of Wide Turns

Tractor-trailers need extra space to make turns, especially right turns. They may swing wide or start a turn from a middle lane. Never attempt to squeeze in between the truck and the curb or try to pass them on the turning side.

Adjust for Weather Conditions

In poor weather conditions, increase your following distance further and reduce your speed. Be particularly cautious of tractor-trailers as they may struggle with traction and stability.

Stay Focused

Just as distracted driving is dangerous for truck drivers, the same applies to passenger vehicle drivers. Always stay focused on the road, avoiding any distractions that could impair your ability to react to the actions of a tractor-trailer.

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