As you drive on Indiana’s interstates, you are probably well aware of the thousands of massive semi-trucks that cross our state on a daily basis. You might have even seen the devastating aftermath of crashes involving big rigs around Indianapolis on I-70 or I-65. But these trucks can also cause crashes on our rural roads, cities, and towns as they pick up and deliver goods to local businesses and warehouses. Our Indianapolis truck accident attorney takes a look at the causes of semi-truck crashes off the highway and what you should do to protect your recovery if you are injured in one.
How Truck Accidents Happen on Indiana Local Roads
As long-distance haulers, commercial semi-trucks spend a lot of time crossing the country on highways and interstates, so it stands to reason that most injury accidents involving trucks happen on the highway. However, as truckers leave the highway to pick up cargo, deliver goods, or take breaks, they must navigate narrow roads and downtown streets. Negligent drivers can cause auto accidents when they:
- Get lost. Truckers are sent to new destinations every day. As they use GPS systems to guide them, their attention is taken from the road in front of them. In an unfamiliar area, this can lead to disastrous consequences. As a trucker navigates unfamiliar downtown streets, they could make a wrong turn, stop suddenly, or run a stop sign, causing a crash.
- Make wide turns. Trucks must swing out to the left before making a right turn. In a congested downtown area where cars might not be expecting this maneuver, it could cause a crash—even a pile-up—at an intersection.
- Don’t check blind zones. Tractor-trailers have large areas around their vehicles where the driver cannot see cars or obstacles. Sometimes called “no-zones,” these blind spots are more likely to have cars in them in busy towns and cities. If a trucker is not extra-cautious when in urban areas, he is likely to run into a vehicle, pedestrian, bicyclist, or motorcycle in his blind spot.
- Speed. On the winding, undivided back roads, the posted speed limit might be 55 mph, but that doesn’t mean that a semi-truck can handle every curve at that speed. If a trucker is on an unfamiliar county road and driving too fast for the conditions, he could cross the center line and collide head-on with an innocent motorist.
- Don’t secure their load properly. Improperly loaded cargo can shift as a truck rounds a bend or frequently stops in town. While open cargo could fall off the trailer and create obstacles for other vehicles, even loads inside a trailer could become imbalanced and cause the truck to tip over.
- Eat, drink, or talk behind the wheel. A stop in town could mean that a trucker has picked up food and plans to eat it while heading back to the highway. Eating is a major distraction for a driver—in the few seconds it takes to pick up a burger and take a bite, a driver could miss an upcoming obstacle and cause a crash. Another risk is drivers who decide the slower pace of a local road provides an opportunity to make a call to their dispatcher or family back home, creating a dangerous distraction.
The causes of semi-truck accidents on local Indiana roads are really no different than they are for regular passenger car drivers, but the effects of truck accidents are far more catastrophic.