Florida is one of ten states that make up half of all fatal truck accidents in the U.S. each year, according to statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This is alarming when you consider trucking accidents, unlike your average car accident, are oftentimes more damaging.
Think about it. Tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, and other large trucks can weigh upwards of 80,000 pounds. One of the most devastating differences between car accidents and truck accidents is the injuries a truck accident can cause. When there is an 80,000-pound truck going against a 3000-pound passenger vehicle, the results can be devastating.
For this reason, the injuries from truck accidents are generally more severe than those from a passenger vehicle colliding with another passenger vehicle. Semi-truck accidents result in some of the worst personal injury cases attorneys handle and can even result in a wrongful death case
Injuries sustained in trucking accidents can range from back injuries, whiplash, traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, and possibly death. These types of injuries can be life-altering for the injured party.
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is studying the rise in truck accidents. In 2019, the department published a study titled ‘Large Truck Crash for Freight Mobility and Safety Enhancement in Florida.’ While conducting research for the study, FDOT looked at data from 2007 to 2016. It found there were 243,017 crashes involving large trucks during that time span. There were about 8,619 crashes involving large trucks in 2019 alone that resulted in 350 fatalities and 4,443 injuries.
Additionally, the study found that, while plenty of trucking accidents happen in and around South Florida, the following locations tend to have a higher rate of trucking accidents: Ft. Myers, Sarasota, Bradenton, Lakeland, Auburndale, and Naples.
While nothing is completely unavoidable, there are certain safety precautions drivers can take to help avoid an auto accident with a semi-truck.
- Stay out of the blind spot.
Every semi-truck has at least one, if not more, blind spots. These are areas of the truck where the truck driver cannot see you. Normally these zones are on either side of the truck and directly behind or in front of it. It is recommended drivers avoid staying in these blind spots if at all possible. Make sure you can see the truck’s mirrors, and once a driver passes a truck, make sure that enough room has been left between the passing car and the truck.
- Maintain a safe distance.
Because semi-trucks are so large in size, they require more stopping distance than the average passenger vehicle. In fact, it takes a semi-truck nearly 40 percent longer to come to a complete stop than an average car. This can vary, depending on the road conditions. Make sure the truck has enough room to stop both when you are behind and in front of a semi-truck.
- Follow the rules of the road.
This rule is one that is always recommended no matter what type of vehicle a driver encounters on the road. The laws of the road are written for a reason, and one of the biggest reasons for these rules is to protect the safety of everyone on the road. If you are driving defensively and following proper driving procedure, the truck driver is more likely to know how to respond and react.
- Do not pass a turning semi-truck.
A driver should never try to pass a semi-truck that is in the process of turning. Any large truck or other commercial vehicle makes wide turns, and by passing a truck in the process of making a wide turn, the possibility of a collision increases.
- Be cautious of road conditions.
Some of the worst car accidents take place during inclement weather, especially when semi-trucks are involved. If the roads are icy or wet, it is recommended that drivers give extra stopping distance than normal. Make sure a wider distance is left between the driver and the semi-truck and ensure that the car’s lights are on during bad weather. When you are driving in an area where there is road work in progress, or where visibility is affected, slow down and be aware of the traffic around you.
- Always wear a seatbelt.
This tip often goes without saying, and wearing a seatbelt is always recommended regardless of whether a semi-truck is involved. This tip is one of the easiest ways to protect the driver and all passengers involved in the event of a car accident.
- Drive defensively.
It is impossible to predict what another driver is going to do at any given time, but one of the best defenses to avoid an accident with a semi-truck is to be vigilant. Truck drivers are on the road for hours on end, and these long days can result in overworked and exhausted drivers. If a driver is approaching a semi-truck on the road, and the driver is swerving or acting erratically, it should be a red flag to the driver that perhaps he or she should back off from following the semi-truck driver. Further, if the driver has extreme concern regarding the safety of others on the road, it is also recommended that he or she get the license number of the truck and report that information to the police.
- Do not drive distracted.
The most common cause of accidents involving semi-trucks is driver error. Avoid using your cell phone and doing anything else that takes your focus off the road. Tire blowouts on 18-wheelers and commercial vehicles are common on the highway and you need to be alert to react calmly and safely.
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Truck accident cases are often complex and require a knowledgeable and skilled personal injury attorney to help you file a lawsuit. Aronfeld Trial Lawyers handles a diverse range of catastrophic injures and wrongful death claims that result from trucking accidents involving 18-wheelers and collisions with other commercial vehicles. If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident with a commercial truck, tractor-trailer or an 18-wheeler, it is important to contact an experienced Miami Truck Accident Lawyer to help you file a lawsuit. Our firm has the ability and experience to launch comprehensive traffic accident investigations by utilizing a team that includes private detectives, former police and highway patrol officers, accident reconstruction experts, and biomechanical engineers. Our team of professionals can quickly amass the facts, evidence and proof needed to establish liability, and maximize the recovery for our clients.