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Denver Auto Accident Attorney Says: Be Careful Around Commercial Trucks

Mark A. Simon May 18, 2016

Road trip! That’s the clarion call heard across Colorado when winter breaks, the land once again turns green, and cabin fever needs a release. Commercial trucking industry in the USA has increased exponentially in past decades. In 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a report with sobering statistics:

  • Increase in large trucks registrations from 10,270,693 in 2011 to 10,659,380 in 2014 (+9.6%)

  • Increase of fatality crashes from 3,781 in 2011 to 3,921 in 2012 (+4%)

  • In 2012, 73% of fatalities were occupants of other vehicles, 18% were truck occupants

  • Increase of injured people in crashes involving large trucks from 88,000 in 2011 to 104,000 in 2012 (+18%).

  • The majority of fatal crashes involving large trucks occurred in rural areas (63%), on a weekday (78%), and during the day (64%).

Statistics also showed that fatalities occur far more frequently in car-truck crashes than in truck-only accidents. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute reported that, in 2014, Colorado had 451 fatal automobile accidents and 488 deaths resulting from vehicular collisions. Ten (2%) of the fatalities were occupants of large trucks.

While sobering, that’s not surprising when one considers the simple physics involved. When something really big and heavy, like an 80,000-lb. rig collides with something not nearly as big or heavy, such as a 4,000-lb. passenger car, that smaller something loses the confrontation.

Experts point to a variety of variables that factor in accidents involving large trucks, such as unrealistic arrival deadlines, lack of employee rights to complain about substandard conditions or equipment, driver exhaustion, inadequate training, and passenger car driver behavior.

A large share of fault may be assigned to the drivers of passenger vehicles. Ignorance or sheer carelessness may be to blame. Unsafe acts committed by passenger vehicle drivers encompass:

  • Driving within a truck’s blind spots (areas behind and beside a truck where the driver has limited or no visibility)

  • Suddenly changing lanes in front of a truck

  • Pulling alongside the right of a truck that is making a right-hand turn

  • Misjudging a truck’s speed at an intersection and turning left in front of the truck

  • Merging improperly into traffic in front of the truck

  • Failure to allow a truck sufficient room to change lanes or merge

  • Passing a truck with insufficient headway

  • Driving too close behind a large truck

  • Failing to move a disabled vehicle out of the travel lane.

Truck drivers don’t want to collide with other vehicles and they certainly have no desire to suffer the emotional trauma of having been involved in a fatal accident. It behooves drivers of passenger cars to be considerate of commercial truck traffic by remembering these three things:

  1. Trucks require a much greater slowing and stopping distance than does any car.

  2. Trucks have much larger blind spots than does any car.

  3. Trucks are not nearly as maneuverable as any car.

If you are involved in an accident with a large truck, Denver auto accident attorney Mark A. Simon can assist you in obtaining appropriate medical care and in determining who is at fault. Call to schedule a consultation.