Published On: Wed, Sep 2nd, 2015

Safer Streets: Reducing Truck Accidents on America’s Roadways

Truck accidents continue to be a major problem, so here are a few ways that both truckers, trucking companies, and the vehicles around them, can raise awareness and reduce accidents.

The Statistics

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there is a steady, albeit slow, increase in the number of deaths and injuries caused by large trucking accidents every year. The figures are truly shocking: 4,000 deaths in 2012 with injuries over 100,000 in the same year.

truck on highway

The injury and death rates are inversely correlated to the number of trucks on the road. In other words, fewer trucks on the road each year is correlated with an increase in the number of deaths and injuries.

For some law firms, like Herrman&Herrman, this isn’t surprising. The firm has seen an increase in accidents in certain parts of the U.S., especially Texas.

Stopping a Rollover

Truckers can do a lot to minimize the risk of accidents on the road. For example, a rollover is a major type of accident in which the truck and trailer physically roll over on the road. This can cause serious injury and death to others on the road.

But, by avoiding drastic movements on straightaways and turns, trucks can reduce the risk of losing traction. Looking ahead for risky areas on the road is another preventative method, while staying aware of the road and others around the truck will reduce the risk of accidents as well.

Preventing Jackknifing

Jackknifing is when the trailer of a large commercial vehicle swings out and away from the truck. When the truck’s wheels lose traction, it will cause jackknifing. This is a risk mostly for trucks that carry a light, or no, load.

Truckers can minimize the risk of this happening by watching out for cargo load swing in the trailer. They can install anti-lock braking systems if the truck doesn’t already have them. And, they can start braking well before a turn begins so that the trailer doesn’t swing out away from the cab.

Preventing Underride Collisions

Underride collisions and rear-end collisions occur when other vehicles do not realize that a truck has stopped. The vehicle behind the truck slams into the back of the truck’s trailer and serious injury or death can occur.

Underride collisions can be prevented by minimizing lane changes, checking mirrors every 5 seconds, and by keeping tail lights clean on the truck.

Slowing down well in advance of a stop will also help as the truck won’t have to slam on its brakes to make the stop. Signaling will reduce the risk of drivers trying to ride around the truck to pass when the truck is making a wide right, or a left turn.

Watching Out For Trucks On The Road

For other drivers on the road, it’s important to watch out for big rigs, steer clear of them on the road. And, if you do have to pass them, make it fast. Most trucks have several serious blind spots and may not be able to see you coming. So, you should start the pass far back enough so that the truck can see you in the side rear mirror.

Jamal Kimball has a career in road safety and likes to share his insights with an online audience. He has previously written for a number of health and road safety blogs.