According to the American Automobile Association (“AAA”), American motorists share a fear of being involved in accidents with large trucks. That communal fear is not unreasonable. Approximately 5000 people are killed annually in accidents involving passenger cars and commercial trucks. Fatal car-truck crashes are all too common.
While many states have placed limits on the size of trucks’ rigs, hazards to motorists and public safety continue to be a plague. Despite the common complaint that large trucks should be limited on passenger-car congested roadways, the trucking lobby is powerful and relentless. As a result, for example, a ride to western Massachusetts on the Massachusetts Turnpike – once upon a time, a model roadway – can be utterly harrowing, as double-rigs traveling 80 miles per hour box drivers in, often approaching too close, from behind or to the right or left. Advances in technology may improve the situation in the future, but in the meantime, motorists should be aware of ways they can increase their own safety when driving near trucks.
A report of the AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety details common errors of automobile drivers around trucks and suggests ways to mitigate the dangers of sharing the road with the giant rigs. Interestingly, some of the items on AAA’s list of car-driver errors pertain to driving in general, such as failure to keep in a lane, running off the road, failure to yield the right of way and speeding, especially in bad weather or in construction zones. Be aware that trucks need more time to maneuver and stop than cars, and that trucks have significant blind spots and tend to create wind gusts. Ideally, all major highways should be dedicated to cars only or heavy trucks only. If that day ever came, thousands of lives per year would be saved, as well as untold aggravation. Until that day, big rigs sharing the roads with passenger cars, and big rig accidents, is a reality. A triple dose of patience and caution is advised around the big rigs.