Every day, car accidents mark our roadways, a constant reminder of just how hazardous driving can be. When these accidents involve trucks, though, the stakes are even higher. Truck accidents are more likely to endanger other drivers on the road, especially those in smaller vehicles, and truck drivers often work under hazardous conditions. This is their job, not just a mode of transportation, and that means they may stay on the road even when it’s time to call it a day.
In order to reduce the risk of truck accidents, the first thing we need to do is identify the primary causes of these incidents. These three situations all make our roads more dangerous and can increase the likelihood of truck accidents – but the good news is that there’s a lot we can do to improve road safety.
Equipment failures are one of the major contributors to truck accidents, and summer can increase the probability of these accidents. In particular, high temperatures can increase the risk of tire blowouts because every 10-degree temperature increase causes a 1 PSI pressure increase. Combine this with general wear and tear, especially among long distance truckers, and a lack of inspection, and it’s no surprise that tires regularly give out – and subsequently send trucks spinning out of control. Drivers should check their tire pressure regularly and be aware of the ways in which elements like temperature fluctuations can impact tire performance.
The Fatigue Factor
According to Teddy, Meekins, & Talbert, P.L.L.C., driver fatigue is one of the leading causes of truck accidents. That’s because truck drivers are under a lot of pressure to meet strict deadlines and may be penalized if they’re late with a delivery. In some cases, drivers are also involved in accidents when they think they’re well-rested because they’re operating during off-hours; circadian rhythms can make people naturally drowsy, so napping mid-day may not make it safer to drive at night.
The good news is that new technology may make it possible to identify when drivers are tired and alert them, so that they know that they should pull over. Additionally, managers need to assess working conditions and ensure that deadlines are realistic and that they aren’t putting their drivers and others on the road in danger.
Mind The Weather
We often think of small cars as being poorly equipped for handling bad weather, but in fact, small vehicles have a lower center of gravity, which means they can have better control than larger vehicles. Trucks, on the other hand, have a very high center of gravity and when roads are wet or icy, they’re prone to skidding, jackknifing, or hydroplaning.
Truck drivers need to proceed with extreme caution during bad weather conditions in order to keep themselves and those around them safe, but sometimes accidents happen, even when drivers are careful. If something does happen on the road, it’s important to remain on the scene, document the circumstances, and seek medical attention right away. Getting treatment is more important than getting back on the road, so stop and assess the situation and seek support. The job can wait when safety is on the line.