The recent tragic deaths of five Georgia Southern nursing students have brought to the forefront trucking safety in the state of Georgia.
Commercial trucks are only involved in 2.4% of all car accidents, but this accounts for about 500,000 accidents per year. When a fully loaded tractor-trailer weighing about 80,000 pounds crashes into a 2-ton motor vehicle, it's almost impossible not to suffer severe injury or death. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 4,000 people died and 95,000 were injured in large truck crashes in 2013. Of those fatalities, 71% were occupants in other vehicles. In 2012, Georgia ranked 5th among states where large trucks were involved in a fatal crash.
Our economy depends on tractor-trailers to haul goods long distances in a short amount of time. As such, large trucks and cars must share the roads. As drivers of passenger vehicles, we can't control what large trucks will do, but we can make decisions that will help prevent catastrophic accidents.
- Give a large truck plenty of time to stop. Tractor-trailers need 3 times as much distance to stop as a car. Don't pull in front of a large truck and suddenly stop. The truck won't have enough distance to stop in time.
- Give a large truck plenty of room to turn. Tractor-trailers make wide turns and need plenty of space do so. If necessary, back up or move over to give them that space.
- Large trucks have bigger blind spots than cars, and they can't always see you.
Side Blind Spots – If you can't see the face of the tractor-trailer driver in his/her side mirror, then they can't see your car.
Rear Blind Spots – Large trucks don't have rear view mirrors and can't see your car behind them. In addition, you can't see what's in front of them. Maintain a safe distance of 1 car length for every 10mph being driven so you have plenty of time to stop if needed.
Front Blind Spots – Make sure you can see the entire front of a tractor-trailer before changing lanes and pulling in front of them. Otherwise, they may not be able to properly see you or may not be able to stop in time if needed.
Unfortunately, the drivers of the passenger vehicles could not have avoided the fatal crash that occurred near Savannah last week. However, maintaining safe speeds and distances around large, tractor-trailer trucks will ensure a safer driving environment for all vehicles on the road.