Updated: Apr 28
No truck driver wants to think about getting into an accident. An accident can lead to harm of yourself and others, damage to your truck and other property, legal and insurance issues, and it can leave you off the road for an extended period of time.
Even though commercial trucks are only involved in 2.4% of all accidents, and only 16% of these accidents are the truck driver’s fault, it’s still important for truckers to know the best ways to avoid a truck accident. Because of this, we are giving you seven common causes of truck accidents on the road, and some tips to help you increase your awareness.
Speeding is the second-highest cause of accidents on the road behind distracted driving. Compared to cars, semi-trucks can exert more force on whatever they make an impact with because of their sheer size and weight. This means it’s even more important that you are aware of your speed and your distance between other vehicles. No matter how important you think your time is for your business, your safety is even more important. By keeping your speed at an appropriate limit, you will not only increase safety on the road by allowing more stopping time, but you will help reduce your costs in fuel.
Weather is unpredictable and can change in an instant. Being prepared to react to a change in weather will benefit your safety and the safety of others on the road. Be cautious when you notice changes in the temperature and clouds as it could mean the weather may begin to act up. Keep your distance from the vehicle in front of you, and if the weather is bad enough be extra aware of ice, snow, water, or debris that could now be on the road. Use your blinker a little longer than you normally would before you turn or cross lanes to give others more time to react and make sure they see you. When you see other trucks pulled over, chances are they are doing it for a reason and the safest thing to do might be to pull yourself over as well. No load is more important than the safety of yourself and the others around you.
Accidents attributed to driver fatigue are often the most serious. Fatigue causes a driver to have very little reaction time and can create similar impairments to driving under the influence of alcohol. After about 17 hours of being awake, your responsiveness and alertness begin to deteriorate significantly. Assess your alertness, and if you are too tired to drive, rest as soon as you can find a safe place to stop, even if you have time left on the clock. Try using Hotels4truckers.com, which is dedicated to helping truckers find hotels that can accommodate them.
Trucks are about four times the length of a typical car. So as a semi-truck driver, you have to be more aware of your surroundings to make sure another vehicle isn’t in your blind spot. Although this may seem obvious, and only about ten percent of accidents are attributed to these restrictions in visibility, it’s still worth acknowledging. Other drivers may be unaware of these blind spots which means it’s up to you to keep a safe distance and to use caution when changing lanes. You can only control what you can control, so if other drivers around you aren’t going to drive responsibly, it’s up to you to be the better driver and pay extra attention to the drivers around you.
If you drive a dedicated route, many of the areas around you are probably very familiar. However, if you use the spot market, many of the roads you drive on might not be so familiar. Unfamiliarity with these areas could cause distractions, from needing to check your GPS, an atlas, or road signs. Keeping your distance and staying patient in these circumstances will help prevent accidents.
Other drivers on the road can sometimes be unaware of the difficult obstacles truck drivers have to deal with every day. This is especially true if a truck driver is unaware that one is coming up. Other drivers may also get frustrated in traffic that they know they have to deal with every day. By staying calm and maintaining your space from these drivers you will help avoid an incident from occurring.
It’s very important to inspect your truck regularly before and after every trip. This includes brakes, tires, fluid levels, mirrors, etc. The most common violation for out-of-service inspection is brake defects. Keeping up on preventative maintenance will not only assist you by saving you money but also may prevent an accident on the road.
If you happen to get in an accident without performing a pre-trip inspection, the liability of that accident will likely fall on you, even if it wasn’t your fault. This is why it’s important to do your inspections so that you don’t cause an accident or that an accident that isn’t your fault isn’t blamed on you.
You are the most important part of your truck. Staying healthy plays a huge role in your safe driving. Eating right, exercising, getting plenty of rest, and taking time to return home are a must for safe driving. Taking care of yourself will make you feel refreshed, have more energy, and be more alert and aware. You are the driver so you make the decisions. It all starts with you and how aware you are on the road.
Follow these tips to avoid truck accidents
There are many other tips that you likely follow in order to prevent getting into an accident. Even if you have been driving for a while, it’s important that you are always following these tips and avoid getting lazy. All it takes is one lapse of judgment or awareness to change the course of your life and the countless lives around. By staying alert and following these tips to improve your driving, you may prevent a truck accident and possibly save a life!