Large commercial vehicles are crucial to the economy. They’re vital to transporting goods, but they can pose a risk to other drivers on the road. Their size and some drivers’ speed can make it seem like a crash is imminent. You could have had your own brush with a semi-truck as you traveled through Cook County.
While you’re driving around semis or other large trucks, remember these tips to ensure you’re as safe as possible.
Although they are outnumbered by passenger vehicles, large trucks have a presence on Illinois’s roads, and if you’re on the highway, you might see more of them. According to Forbes, there were more than 520,000 accidents involving large trucks in 2021. Chicago saw 128 fatal truck accidents in 2021, more than they saw in the two preceding years.
Semi-trucks, refrigerator trucks, and other large commercial vehicles pose a threat to other drivers merely by their sheer size. Trucks can be loaded up to 80,000 pounds, and empty trucks can weigh up to 35,000 pounds. A fully loaded truck traveling 65 mph can take up to the length of two football fields to safely stop. Passenger vehicles need half of that distance. A collision with a speeding truck could mean death to passengers in another vehicle.
A truck’s size also means it can have difficulty maneuvering or seeing other vehicles around it. Sometimes drivers stay on the road longer than they should because they want to finish their route sooner: these fatigued drivers pose a threat to other travelers. Several factors could cause trucks to crash: being prepared and following these tips can help protect you and your family.
Large vehicles have large areas around them that the driver cannot see, even with mirrors. Often called “no-zones,” drivers or pedestrians can disappear in these blind spots. There is a small no-zone at the front of a truck, two moderate-sized no-zones to the side, and a large zone to the rear of the truck.
The rear blind spot can extend up to 200 feet behind a truck. A trucker would not be able to see a car that’s riding in that no-zone, and the car’s driver could not see past the truck to see the upcoming road and any hazards there.
A good rule of thumb is to look for the truck driver’s face: they should be able to see you if you can see them.
Keeping your distance from other vehicles is not just proper driving etiquette, but it’s safer, too. It’s possible for passenger vehicles to get pushed beneath tractor-trailers or other tall vehicles if cars pile up in a crash.
Known as “underriding,” these accidents can be deadly. Some trailers have equipment that prevent vehicles from getting pushed beneath them, but others don’t. You can protect yourself on Cook County’s roads by staying back from large commercial vehicles and watching your speed.
You might feel like you need to rush when you’re on the road, but it’s a good idea to watch your speed and pay attention to other vehicles as you move with traffic. You should be cautious when you’re attempting to pass a truck, especially in hilly or windy areas.
You’ll need to be able to pass the truck without impeding traffic moving in the opposite direction. You’ll also need to give the truck enough clearance to merge back over. In most trucks, drivers cannot see the area immediately in front of them. Cutting over too quickly after you pass them could cause them to rear-end you or cause them to panic and wreck.
Long vehicles need extra space to maneuver safely. They make wide turns, and you should be patient as they move backwards too. That’s why following guidelines, like stop bars at intersections, are so essential. A vehicle can easily catch other vehicles or pedestrians underneath them as they turn. Traffic patterns, available space, and intersection layout may require a truck to veer slightly to the left before making a right turn.
Most drivers are taught to focus on the road to ensure they won’t threaten other drivers. In defensive driving, you should be watching others on the road to protect yourself. Accidents can happen, and usually they’re caused by something out of your control entirely. However, if you notice a truck veering recklessly, speeding, or driving erratically, you should use caution and back up.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has guidelines for drivers that regulate how long they can be on the road, how much cargo they can transport, and if they can have controlled substances while driving. Some drivers may ignore these regulations in order to make more money or get to their destination quicker. Other drivers just aren’t that careful. You can take your safety into your hands by watching for signs of dangerous behavior and avoiding trucks driving recklessly.
Illinois uses a “modified comparative negligence” law. A personal injury victim can pursue a claim if they are less than 50% responsible for the accident that caused their crash. If they share liability, a victim’s claim will be reduced proportionally. For instance, a driver hurt by a truck may be able to pursue a claim. If they were texting while driving, the settlement amount will be reduced. If the driver was awarded $1 million and was found 20% responsible for their injuries, they’d only receive $800,000.
Being a safe driver is not only better for your health, but it can allow you to bring a stronger claim to insurance companies. Insurers are looking for ways to reduce settlements that they owe because they’re profit-driven businesses. If you weren’t driving safely, an insurance company could argue you don’t deserve the compensation you need to recover from an accident.
Truck accidents can be confusing and dangerous. You may be left with bills and damages to pay in the aftermath, and if your injuries are severe enough, you could be unable to work. Finding a Cook County truck accident lawyer is critical to recovering the money you deserve after an injury accident.
The team at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers can help you pursue an injury claim after a truck crash. We know how dangerous these events are, and we want you to stand the best chance at recovering physically and financially. We’ll investigate your crash and negotiate on your behalf. Our no-win, no fee policy means you don’t pay us unless we win you a settlement.