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The legal weight of an 18-wheeler – without any oversize or overweight permits – is 80,000 pounds. In contrast, the average light duty automobile in 2012 weighed 3,977 pounds, as reported by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Needless to say, in accidents involving commercial trucks and passenger vehicles, the occupants of the passenger vehicles can suffer very serious personal injuries. To avoid such a devastating accident, it makes good sense to learn what mistakes to avoid when sharing the road with large trucks.
Capabilities and Maneuverability of Big Trucks
The California Department of Motor Vehicles has made information about the physical capabilities of big trucks available to the general public in an effort to reduce the number of accidents. It is important for motorists to be aware of the following:
- Longer stopping distance. Because of their weight and size, large commercial trucks take longer to stop than passenger vehicles. While the average passenger vehicle can stop in about 400 feet after traveling at 55 mph, it will take the average large truck traveling at the same speed approximately twice that distance to stop. It is not advisable to slow down or stop in front of a large commercial truck. The driver may not be able to stop in time to avoid a collision with your vehicle.
- Blind spots. Drivers of large trucks have “blind spots,” and it is important to avoid them. Blind spots occur because the trailer part of the truck blocks what the driver can see in his or her mirrors. The DMV has provided a diagram of these locations on their website. The rule of thumb is that if you cannot see the truck driver in the truck’s side mirror, the truck driver cannot see you.
- Larger turning radius. Be alert for the wide swing of large trucks that are turning right or left, and stay out of the path of the swing of the rear end of the truck.
- Less maneuverability. Bear in mind that large trucks do not have the maneuverability of smaller vehicles. The average 18 wheeler can be 70 to 80 feet long. They weigh more, require more room for turns, and take longer to stop and start. According to the California traffic statistics, these trucks must be driven in the far right lane of the highway, unless posted otherwise, or in the lane just to the left of the far right lane when there are four or more traffic lanes in one direction.
While safe driving is important under any circumstances, motorists are wise to take extra caution with large commercial trucks because of the potential for serious injury in a car accident with such a large and heavy vehicle.
Avoid these mistakes:
- Do not underestimate the speed of an approaching truck. Due to their massive size, large trucks may appear to be traveling slower than they actually are.
- Do not cut off a truck in traffic or on the highway. Slow down and let the truck go in front of you instead.
- Never tailgate a large truck. The driver cannot see you, which puts you at risk.
- Do not linger alongside a large truck. Pass on the left and get ahead of the truck as soon as possible. These simple safety measures taken by motorists can help save lives by preventing accidents with commercial trucks.
The simple answer is yes, you can sue. However, these types of accidents can be complicated and it’s important to know which state the truck is registered in, as many trucking associations work with legal teams across the United States to support their drivers. Many truck drivers are also self-employed and may not be registered with any association, which means you would have to seek compensation for damages through the individual truck driver’s insurance company and potentially the driver.
If you have been in this type of accident, it’s important to get as much information as possible at the scene of the crash, especially if you’ve been involved in an accident with a commercial company like FedEx or UPS. If you find yourself saying, “A FedEx truck hit my car… ” or “A UPS truck hit my car…” you need to get as many details about the crash as soon as you can, including the driver’s information, any photos of the accident and witness statements or contact information. It is estimated that UPS truck accidents alone happen about once every three hours. In fact, in 2019, UPS trucks were involved in 2,627 crashes, including 948 that caused injuries and 55 fatalities. If you are in an accident with a large company like UPS, it’s important that you can prove negligence on behalf of the driver. In order to prove this, you have to demonstrate four things:
- The truck driver owed you a duty of care
- That duty was breached by the truck driver
- The accident has actual or proximate causation
- You suffered damages as a result of the driver’s negligence
Vehicle Crashes Surging Cause the Need for a Reputable Attorney
If you’re in an accident with any type of large truck or commercial vehicle and looking for compensation, it’s important to work with a law firm that understands the many different types of insurance and legal options that America’s trucking industry uses. Your case could change depending on the size of the trucking company and how drivers are registered, so it’s also important to know what to do when sharing the road with large trucks so you can avoid an accident if possible.
Avrek Law has more than 50 years combined experience representing cases in several states and they are experts in helping people who have been injured by large truck accidents. The consultation is free and you’ll get advice from a law firm with more than $1 billion recovered in more than 45,000 cases. View one of our locations or contact us for a free accident consultation.