9 Things to Know About Sharing the Road with Big Trucks

Tribune Business, Community, Governance, History, Travel, Westchester County, NY 1 Comment

Trucks … Photo by Quintin Gellar courtesy of Pexels.

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NY — April 19, 2021 —It’s not likely that a day goes by when you don’t hear about a truck accident. Most of these truck accidents end up being fatal, and it’s not just an issue in the U.S.

For example, in mid-April, there was an accident that occurred in southern Egypt. A bus overturned while it was trying to pass a truck on a highway, and the collision killed 21 people and injured three others according to the most recent reports.

The bus was going from Cairo when it was hit by a truck in the province of Assiut. Both vehicles caught fire.

It was a horrific scene, and both drivers died.

In March of this year, in a case of suspected human smuggling, there was a crash between an SUV filled with 25 people and a tractor-trailer. That accident, near the U.S.-Mexico border, killed 13 people.

These are just two of the horror stories that reinforce the importance of safely sharing the road with trucks and understanding why trucks hurt people.

With that in mind, the following are 9 important facts about truck safety and sharing the road with these massive vehicles.

1. Trucks Weigh Up to 80,000 Pounds

The number one reason big trucks are so dangerous is because of their size. A large truck, a tractor-trailer, or a semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. They also travel at high speeds on highways.

When up to 80,000 pounds hit a much smaller vehicle, it tends to lead to a catastrophic outcome.

Tractor-trailers often carry large cargo loads that similarly increase their impact and weight, plus there are cases where the cargo itself can be dangerous.

On average, a truck can weigh 20 to 30 times more than a car.

2. It Can Take a Truck 40% Longer to Stop

If a driver of an 18-wheeler attempts to stop, you can plan that it will take them around 40% longer for that to happen fully than a passenger vehicle. Based on reaction time and road conditions, it can be even more of a difference than that.

If a tractor-trailer is fully loaded, driving on dry pavement, and is going 60 mph, it will take them just over the length of a football field to come to a complete stop.

Again, this doesn’t take into account the driver’s reaction time or the 0.5-second delay in air brakes.

3. Truck Accident Injuries Can Be Severe

Even if a truck accident isn’t deadly, the resulting injuries can be catastrophic and life-altering.

For example, paralysis, amputation, burns, and traumatic brain injuries frequently occur. People involved in truck accidents may have long-term cognitive impairment, disfigurement and may not be able to communicate after the accident.

4. Trucks Are Significantly Affected by High Winds

Semi-trucks are very impacted by wind. They are much bigger than passenger cars, so the massive surface area creates what’s called a sail area. That sail area can catch the wind. The wind can cause movement of the truck and trailer.

This can then cause the driver to lose control, meaning that the wind can contribute to truck accidents.

A sail area is any surface that generates thrust when the wind hits it. The larger the square footage, the more the wind pressure can power it.

Semi truckers are trained on the danger of high winds, but even so, that doesn’t stop accidents from happening.

A truck driver does know to reduce their speed when it’s windy, and sometimes they may have to get off the road altogether because the wind causes them to leave their lane.

A truck with an empty trailer can be even more dangerous in a high-wind situation because it can be moved around by even a relatively mild amount of wind.

5. It Takes a Truck Longer to Accelerate

It takes a truck longer to come to a complete stop and also to accelerate.

What this means for drivers of passenger vehicles is that if a truck starts to overtake you, they might not be fast enough to avoid people coming onto the road.

6. There Are Other Differences Between Cars and Large Trucks

Along with the size and the longer stopping time, there are some other major differences between a passenger vehicle and a big truck.

For example, truck drivers have a reduced field of vision.

A truck driver has multiple blind spots on each side. They also have blind spots in front of their trucks and behind them.

Large trucks, as was touched on, can’t merge quickly because of their size, and they also make wide turns and need a lot of room to do so.

7. There Are Proactive Things You Can Do to Stay Safe

Sharing the road with trucks is dangerous and scary, but as the driver of a passenger vehicle, there are things you can do to reduce your risks.

Some of these include:

Don’t pass on a truck’s right-hand side.

• Leave enough space between your vehicle and all trucks and other vehicles.

• Don’t stop suddenly.

• Try to keep a consistent speed.

• Assume a truck driver can’t see you.

• Let trucks have the space they need to merge in.

• Try not to drive between two trucks.

• Give a truck room if the driver is going to make a turn, and assume it will be a wide one.

• Use your turn signals.

• Be mindful of wind and weather conditions.

8. Trucks’ Tires Blow Out More Often

Another thing to be aware of with big trucks that makes them a hazard is the fact they have more tire blowouts than a typical passenger vehicle. There are a few reasons for this—the big loads they carry, the long stretches of time they spend on roadways, and the pressure within the tires are key factors.

If a driver experiences a tire blowout, they may lose control.

9. Trucks Move a Lot of Air

Finally, vehicles push a certain volume of air that’s proportional to their size. A big truck will move more air than a standard passenger vehicle, and that can create turbulence, which can actually knock other drivers on the roadways out of their path.


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