These elevated risks stem from several factors that contribute to potentially dangerous situations.
Understanding these factors can help all motorists take precautions to stay safe on the road.
1. Limited visibility
Trucks, due to their large size and the height of their cabins, have substantial blind spots. These blind spots, also known as no-zones, are areas where the truck driver has significantly obstructed vision. Smaller vehicles that linger in these blind spots become vulnerable to accidents. Drivers need to be aware of these blind spots and avoid lingering in them for extended periods.
2. Braking distance
Trucks require more time and distance to come to a complete stop compared to smaller vehicles. This increased braking distance can catch drivers of smaller vehicles off guard, especially when they cut in front of trucks or suddenly slow down. Failing to account for a truck’s longer stopping time can lead to rear-end collisions, putting the smaller vehicle’s occupants at risk.
3. Driver fatigue
Long-haul truck drivers often spend extended hours on the road, which can lead to driver fatigue. Fatigue can impair a driver’s reaction time, judgment and attentiveness. When a fatigued truck driver makes a mistake or fails to react quickly to changing road conditions, it can result in accidents that might have been avoidable with a well-rested driver behind the wheel.
In 2021, 117,300 large trucks played a role in crashes across the U.S. that resulted in injuries. Vigilance, defensive driving and maintaining a safe following distance can help mitigate the risks associated with truck traffic.