6 Dangerous Situations to Avoid on the Road

The 6 most dangerous situations on the road and highways that cause fatal accidents involve commercial truck drivers and their large 18-wheelers. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA), there has been a 20% increase in trucking accidents over the last two decades. Each year, over 5,000 people are killed and nearly 150,000 are injured in accidents involving large commercial trucks.

The most common driving situations that lead to commercial truck accidents can be controlled by the truck drivers themselves and therefore, can be avoided. Training and awareness on how to assess dangerous situations and how to properly react can improve truck safety.

1. Speeding: According to the NHTSA, one out of three fatal accidents involves speed as a contributing factor. Many truck drivers participate in aggressive speeding in order to stay on their delivery schedule. The larger a vehicle, traveling at higher speeds, the more deadly the collision. In fact, speeding has led to more than 13,000 fatalities and 130,000 injuries per year.

2. Driving while distracted: Many trucking accidents are the result of the driver not paying enough attention to his or her surroundings. Common forms of distracted driving are texting, eating, drinking, engaging in conversation with passengers, grooming, operating a radio or GPS device, watching a video, and reading a map. While there are a wide variety of distractions, it has been found that nearly 25% of all accidents involved texting while driving. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration now prohibits truck and bus drivers from texting with any handheld cell phone or other device that takes the drivers’ eyes off the road, and drivers who violate the regulation are subject to a penalty of up to $2,750.

3. Driving while fatigued: The National Transportation Safety Board study found that fatigue was a prominent factor in 52% of 107 heavy truck crashes; in 18% of those crashes, the driver admitted to falling asleep at the wheel. The government has taken extra measures to limit the time truck drivers can spend on the road by creating hours-of-service regulations.

4. Neglecting to check blind spots: “No zones” are very large blind spots where truck drivers cannot see another vehicle present. The three blind spots that big rigs have are the side, front, and rear. The side is mostly the right side of the big rig. The front blind spot of a rig is due to the elevated cabs which make it difficult for drivers to see immediately in front on the rig. The rear’s blind spot is due to the fact that the big rig does not have rearview mirrors. Small cars and motorists are almost never visible to a trucker when traveling behind a rig.

5. Improperly loading a truck: When a load is improperly loaded cargo shifts, cargo is imbalanced and can either fall out of the back of trucks or it can cause the truck to topple over or swerve. The Cargo Securement Rules by the FMCSA have been adapted based on the North American Cargo Securement Standard Model Regulations and have been in place since January 1, 2004. The rule states that the cargo must be “firmly immobilized or secured” on the vehicle by tie downs or another structure of adequate strength, shoring bars, or any combination of these.

6. Weather conditions: Despite how experienced a truck driver is the most common issue is the fact that big trucks cannot be stopped as quickly or steered as easily as cars in bad weather. Significant weather events involving precipitation such as rain, sleet, snow, freezing rain and wind create a dangerous atmosphere for drivers. Failure to accommodate to local weather and road conditions lead to trucking accidents during the winter months.

These six most common dangerous driving situations lead to commercial truck accidents can be controlled by the truck drivers themselves and therefore can be avoided. By providing training and awareness to truckers about the importance of learning to assess these situations and how to properly react can improve truck safety.