Commercial semi-trucks are a common sight on Indiana roads. Nationally, the trucking industry moves 58 percent of all goods shipped throughout the country, making them the largest carrier of goods. While numerous trucks indicate a strong economy, unfortunately, these trucks can also present dangers to drivers of passenger vehicles.
Risks Inherent in Semi-Trucks
In general, semi-truck accidents are caused by a combination of a truck's characteristics, performance capabilities, and others’ limited understanding of those characteristics. What this means is that trucks are much harder to control and maneuver than smaller vehicles and, when those smaller vehicles don’t defer to the truck’s limitations, accidents can happen. Specifically, trucks are less able than cars to do the following:
- Accelerate. Trucks are heavy and, while they can get to normal highway speeds and beyond eventually, it takes a lot longer to do so than cars. As a result, they can be slow to merge on the highway, creating a hazard to cars approaching in the right lane or merging onto the highway behind them.
- Brake. Their size and weight also make trucks hard to stop, so if a car brakes suddenly in front of a semi, the truck will most likely not be able to stop in time to avoid hitting the car. Also, truck brakes often overheat and fail, creating a dangerous situation for everyone on the highway.
- Be seen. When trucks travel at night, it can be difficult for other drivers to see the entire length of the rig—especially when the truck has side reflectors or lights that are out—and cars can make a lane change or merge onto the highway right into a semi-trailer.
It falls on the driver of the truck to operate his rig at safe speeds and at increased following distances, but when passenger car drivers are aware of a truck’s limitations, they can protect themselves and their passengers from a devastating crash.