Five Situations That Lead To Semi Truck Accidents (And How To Avoid Them)

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Last week marked National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, an event acknowledged by the California Highway Patrol and numerous other police and safety agencies around the country. Understanding that the best way to show appreciation is to avoid a serious accident, the Bernard Law Group has compiled a series of situations that drivers should strive to circumvent in order to ensure safety. our history of filing lawsuits on behalf of persons injured in these crashes, we’ve been able to identify certain patterns that tend to hold true.

America’s transportation infrastructure is unmatched throughout the world, and our nation’s trucking industry is a vital part of the nation’s lifeblood. Any trip along a highway in Washington or the rest of the country will bring a driver into contact with numerous commercial tractor trailers.

But with such a heavy reliance on fleet transportation, accidents are bound to happen. Recently, the California Highway Patrol observed an event (as described in an Oakdale Leader report from September 12 titled 'CHP Offers A Truckload Of Appreciation') called National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, an important awareness effort to be sure.

Commercial truck drivers are faced with an array of challenges that the average driver doesn’t usually experience, and motor vehicle operators have to realize the precautions that need to be taken near such large conveyances. The best way anyone can show their appreciation for such drivers is to limit exposure to danger.

In his time aiding the victims of semi-truck accidents, Kirk Bernard of the Bernard Law Group has been able to take note of some of the most challenging situations awaiting drivers:

“Tractor trailer accidents can happen at any time and at any place,” said Mr. Bernard, “but in our history of filing lawsuits on behalf of persons injured in these crashes, we’ve been able to identify certain patterns that tend to hold true. By avoiding these situations altogether, the risk of being involved in an accident is minimized.”

Drivers are urged to recognize the circumstances that often contribute to a crash. In doing so, they can try to prevent a dangerous situation from playing out:

•Night Driving- Fatigued driving is a very real problem in the commercial transportation industry. New hours-of-service regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration may reduce the risk, but with truckers still exposed to sleep apnea and insomnia at excessive rates, crashes related to exhaustion are still far too commonplace for the firm’s liking.

Thus, motor vehicle operators should seek to limit their driving between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am. Such trips run contrary to the natural circadian rhythms of the human body. When drivers are exhausted, the results can be catastrophic.

•Construction Areas- Death, taxes, and construction zones: the three constants in life. Navigating around a semi-truck is difficult enough without having to squeeze into a lane that’s being encroached upon by barricades or orange cones.

Rather than driving right next to or behind a tractor trailer in a construction zone, smaller vehicles should trail behind the larger truck, leaving plenty of following distance between their vehicle and the trailer. If a vehicle is alongside a truck amid construction and the truck swerves, the accident would technically not be the fault of the smaller vehicle’s driver, but this comes as little solace when an automobile is being pressed up against a concrete barrier by a much larger rig.

•An Ill-Advised Turn- In certain situations where a semi-truck is attempting to turn left out of a driveway or a busy intersection, some unsafe truck drivers will pull themselves into the road, blocking one side of the street while they wait for the other to clear. Although a collision during such circumstances would likely be the trucker’s fault, the subsequent crash could be serious for both vehicles. Wait for the truck to pull out completely rather than jumping the gun so that a crash and an ensuing legal battle can be averted altogether.

•A Merging Emergency- Because of their size, semi-truck operators are able to push their way into just about any given lane of highway traffic when merging from an entrance, on-ramp or a weigh station. It is best for other drivers to give trucks ample room at such junctures by moving into another lane if safe to do so.

•Adverse Weather- It is one thing for an automobile to stop on a dime in downpour conditions, but quite another for a semi to do the same. If in front of a semi-truck during such weather, try to avoid slamming on the brakes, as this can lead to hydroplaning of either vehicle. Do not follow trucks too closely in such situations either, as the rain cascading off the trailer can severely limit your visibility and driving capability.

Kirk Bernard has been protecting the rights of Washington personal injury victims, including those injured in auto accidents, for 30 years, achieving landmark court victories and settlements in the process. The Bernard Law Group provides legal representation to those injured in semi-truck accidents who have struggled to obtain appropriate compensation from a commercial trucking firm. Persons interested in a free consultation can visit to learn more about the firm and the people behind it.

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Megan Castello
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