There’s been a lot of talk lately about the dangers of slow trucks on the highway. And, no, we aren’t just talking about that rusty relic of a recalled pickup truck hobbling down the interstate with a filthy sofa and a treadmill poking out the back.
We’re talking about the boss hogs of the highway here. Tractor-trailer semis with big old blind spots and a tendency to blow sideways during a sudden wind gust. Some say they are a major contributor to crashes, while others claim truck drivers are just being scapegoated due to being such an easy target.
So, who is right? Both sides have a point, it just primarily depends upon the following factors.
Trucks will often move slower than the posted speed limit due to carrying heavy loads, as well as the limitations of truck diesel engines. Occasionally, the law will even require trucks to drive below the speed limit when carrying a certain type of cargo, or a particular size.
This can make it difficult for other drivers to pass and can cause traffic buildups behind slower semi-trailers, dump trucks, and other large transit vehicles. These traffic jams often lead to distracted driving and road rage, both of which are notorious for causing collisions. Impatient drivers will also attempt to maneuver around the trucks by weaving in and out of traffic. A dangerous driving act that tends to make everyone on the highway nervous.
Slow trucks can be dangerous, especially when in the left lane in the U.S. As far as moving on the left lane goes, large trucks can make it difficult for emergency vehicles to get through.
Additionally, slow trucks can make it difficult for drivers to see what lies ahead, which over the years has been linked to a large number of crashes. Situations such as these are especially disconcerting when white-out snow storms and torrential rains impede vision and tire traction. Larger box trailers cast an even bigger shadow, as they form blind spots for drivers on both sides when cruising down the center of a multi-lane interstate.
In most states, laws require that truck drivers maintain a certain distance between their vehicle and the automobile or motorcycle in front of them. This is because trucks weigh significantly more than passenger vehicles and therefore require more time to stop. Laws such as these also help reduce the risk of sudden truck braking, which in turn provides merging traffic and vehicles behind the truck an additional window of response time.
Truck drivers also can’t afford to have the points on their license deducted, so they opt to drive slower than the posted speed limit. If truckers lose points on their licenses in a certain state, they may be required to take a defensive driving course. These courses are about as unexciting as it gets, as they are intended to provide CDL license holders with the basics of big rig operation all over again.
Furthermore, combustion engines tend to consume a lot more fuel when speeds are increased, so operating a large rig while driving slowly can help save money if done properly.
However, arguing that all large trucks should be required to drive slower than passenger vehicles to reduce collisions is a bit misaligned. Large trucks are involved in a very small percentage of crashes when compared to the number of crashes caused by passenger vehicles or road obstacles.
That’s not to say that big rigs aren’t still at fault for certain kinds of crashes. Some of the common forms of large truck-related traffic incidents include:
Rear-end collisions are of particular concern, as they can be particularly hazardous if a vehicle is pushed underneath the trailer of a truck. To avoid any of these dangerous scenarios, always leave plenty of space between you and any large trucks around you when possible. Remember, trucks and trailers are required to have a “Mansfield Bar” in the rear for a reason. These collision braces do not cover the sides though, so be wary of this fact.
Speaking of which — in a sideswipe situation, a truck changing lanes can cause a vehicle in its blind spot to get stuffed underneath or squashed. Sideswipe crashes can be very dangerous because they can cause the smaller vehicle to spin out of control, and trailer trucks to jackknife. If you ever get involved in this kind of collision or any other crash listed here, be sure to contact a team of truck accident lawyers to help with your case.
Finally, the large trucks are prone to flipping onto their side, which is technically considered a rollover incident. These situations are often caused by a sudden swerve or a truck hitting a large pothole or an obstacle in the road. Rollover crashes can be particularly dangerous if occupants are ejected from the vehicle.
While slow-moving trucks can be annoying, it is important to remember they are driving in such a manner for a reason. To avoid truck run-ins, it is vital to give trucks plenty of space and remain aware of their blind spots.
In closing, it is important to avoid driving behind a slow-moving truck whenever possible to avoid being involved in a rear-end collision. If you are ever involved in a crash with a slow-moving truck, reaching out to an experienced investigative truck collision lawyer can spell the difference between fair compensation and pay for hospital bills.