If you’re familiar with driving in the city, you’ve probably become familiar with seeing beaten cars gated off by police, the sight of broken glass and metal shards strewn about the streets. Accidents are an almost daily occurrence in most major cities, resulting from a high-stress driving environment, lack of attention paid to the roads, and just plain human error. Chances are, either you or someone you know will get into an accident at some point in your life, as the number of accidents overall in the U.S. is high and continues to climb.
While in general, automobile accidents can be both painful and expensive, few consider the potential impact of getting into an accident with a commercial vehicle. While few consider commercial vehicles and their drivers to be above reproach, even fewer think about the extremely high likelihood that they’ll get into an accident with a commercial vehicle and treat them with appropriate levels of caution.
While not intended to turn commercial vehicles into roadside boogeymen, fueling the nightmares of already paranoid drivers and giving them another reason to drive ten miles under the speed limit, this article intends to inform drivers about the likelihood of commercial vehicle accidents and why it’s essential to be extra cautious around these kinds of vehicles.
1. Driver Training and Expectations
While most commercial vehicle drivers are held to the federal standard for training, they are still fundamentally human and therefore prone to making mistakes. Truck drivers are as prone to road rage as anyone else and just as likely to slip up in unsafe driving conditions such as heavy rain or icy roads.
Trucker fatigue is also a prominent problem in the truck driving community, as truck drivers will often push themselves past their limits (and past federal limits) to avoid missing deadlines or getting a smaller paycheck. As such, truck drivers may be less alert than drivers of passenger cars, as they’ve been driving over 12 hours without stopping for a significant period.
2. Commercial Vehicles Can Do A Lot of Damage
With the overall size and weight of commercial vehicles, they can do a significant amount of damage to cars around them if they should jackknife, flip, or even cut into a lane without giving passenger cars surrounding them enough space. With the average weight of commercial vehicles, it’s far more likely that a collision with them will harm you or your vehicle than the truck or its driver.
For this reason, the kinds of injuries drivers tend to sustain can be more severe as well, ranging from back and neck injuries and broken joints to traumatic brain injuries and paralysis/spinal injuries.
3. Should You Get in an Accident, You’re In for a Fight
Instead of squaring off against another driver and their insurance company, if you get into an accident with a commercial vehicle, you will be facing a team of insurance agents with the weight of what could be a billion-dollar corporation behind them. What’s worse, the burden of proof is on you, as while person-to-person accidents can occasionally be easier to mediate, corporations will accept none of the blame unless you can back up your claim with hard, indisputable evidence. You’ll need to talk to a lawyer before you approach the responsible company and establish an airtight case to avoid being dismissed outright.
4. Like Other Accidents, But Deadlier
The good news is, commercial vehicle accidents are just like any other accident: preventable, for the most part, if you practice defensive driving. Short of a Final-Destination-like act of god that causes devastation across a wide swath of the road, treating runaway commercial vehicles like any other irresponsible driver should keep you safe. Give commercial vehicles their distance, and should you notice one barreling your way, make haste to get out of its warpath.
Your Safety is Your Priority
Much like other accidents, the onus for keeping yourself safe is on you. You aren’t and cannot be responsible for what other people choose to do; you can only react to what others do on the road. Practicing general defensive driving skills and being aware of the threat will keep you from becoming another statistic and keep you from having to fight a protracted battle with an army of insurance agents.