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While large trucks make up less than 5% of traffic on the roads, to anyone driving along side one of these beasts on the highway, it probably seems like a lot more than that.  Despite being only 5% of roadway traffic these trucks account for over 10% of all fatal truck accidents in Missouri and Illinois.  This is due to the fact that when a loaded 18 wheeler can weigh as much as 40 tons or 20 times more than a typical 4,000 pound passenger car.  Truck driving, according to Time Magazine, is number 8 on the list of the “most dangerous jobs.” It’s an incredibly important job, yet it’s a risky one. While total traffic fatalities have decreased over the last 15 years,  commercial tractor trailers are still responsible for dozens of deaths each year in Missouri and Illinois. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, these crashes can be generally grouped into the following causes:

  • Driver Errors – this can include speeding, making illegal maneuvers, improperly secured loads, driver fatigue, alcohol or illegal drug use, prescription and over-the-counter drug use, driver illness and stress, inadequate training and inattentive driving
  • Truck Problems – this includes brake failure, defective parts, improper truck maintenance, overloaded and oversized trucks and poorly loaded trucks.
  • Environmental Issues – Weather, missing signs on the road, traffic flow detours and compromised sightline.
Studies have shown that the largest contributors to crashes are due to driver error, particularly unsafe driving and driver fatigue (which compromises vision, response time and ability to estimate proper braking distance). With cell phones and other personal devices in use everywhere, we can, unfortunately, only expect to see more accidents in the way of “distracted driving”. Adding to the problem is the fact that over the road truck drivers are compensated by the miles they drive.  The faster and longer they drive the more money they make.  There are Federal laws that limit how long a truck driver can drive in one stretch before stopping to rest but when there is a financial incentive there will always be those who don’t play by the rules if it means more money in their pocket.
As car drivers, who must co-exist with the trucks, the best thing you can do to avoid being part of a truck accident is giving them plenty of space. You don’t want to be in their blind spot. You don’t want to be near them when they are changing lanes. You don’t want to be near them when they are making a turn, or, if fatigue sets in and they are swerving on the road. Our advice is to keep your distance as much as possible to reduce your chances of an unfortunate collision.
Click here to learn more about Truck Accidents and litigation in Missouri and Illinois.