Truckers generally spend more time on the road than almost any other motorist except perhaps traveling salesmen. The simple numbers that they cover in a given year mean that they are more likely to get in an accident than other drivers, but the numbers can seem staggering.
Nationwide, some 600 semi-tractor trailer drivers die each year as a result of an automotive collision, and in Texas they were involved in more than 400 crashes causing fatalities as recently as 2006, causing nearly 500 deaths.
More than 10,000 large trucks were involved in crashes that year that led to injuries, and more than 15,000 total collisions were reported. The numbers themselves are enough to give motorists reason to practice more defensive driving in Texas, but recent events point to the dangers on a more personal basis.
In February and March 2010, the state had to deal with abnormally cold conditions that are generally found in more northerly states. The lower temperatures often contributed to icy conditions that truckers in the South rarely face, and several collisions ensued.
In Grayson County, the driver of an eighteen-wheeler was unable to come to a stop as traffic slowed from two lanes to one. The resulting impact left one passenger in critical condition after the March 18 incident.
A multi-vehicle pileup in Arlington caused the tragic death of one 21-year-old man. An initial two-car collision led to further impacts as other drivers were unable to avoid the accident. It led to a tractor-trailer impacting the man's vehicle, killing him. Authorities released information linking the cause of the accidents to icy conditions on the roadway.
Even if you don't plan on obtaining a commercial driver's license or driving a tractor trailer, the fact is that you will most likely share the road with one on a daily basis, at least.
There are several steps that you can take to protect yourself on the road, especially if you aren't already considering enrolling in a defensive driving course. Some tips include:
1) Give trucks a larger berth for starting and stopping. They may weigh tens of thousands of pounds more than a large SUV, and for that reason take hundreds more feet to stop. Providing more space for this can limit the likelihood of a collision.
2) Make a point of traveling in an area where you can see the tractor-trailer's mirrors. While they may be able to see other areas thanks to smaller supplemental mirrors, you are more likely to stay safe if you can ensure that you are within the truck driver's field of vision at all times.
3) If your car has become inoperable, try to move it as far away from a roadway as possible. Trucks may travel slightly outside of the white lines marking a highway at times, and a car that is parked near these markers could be struck by an oncoming tractor trailer. If the condition of the car is such that you're unable to accomplish this, move as many occupants as are able far enough from the roadway to avoid being involved in a collision.