14 Jan

10 Tips For Sharing The Road With Commercial Trucks In Florida

Truck Accident

tips for sharing the road with Florida truckers

Trucks are an important part of America’s economy – they transport goods across the country, supplying manufacturers and retailers with the resources they need (like groceries) to meet the demands of consumers. We need trucks, but the fact remains that large commercial vehicles are incredibly dangerous to everyone else on the road for multiple reasons – their size, their inability to stop quickly, the long hours that truck drivers work without rest, and more. Between 1975 and 2018, data showed that between 3,000 and 7,000 people were killed each year in collisions involving large trucks. Most recently available annual data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) shows that a total of 4,136 people died in truck accidents in 2018. In Florida specifically, 157 people received incapacitating injuries in collisions with light or medium trucks in 2019, and 33 others died. The majority of these fatalities were the drivers of passenger vehicles, motorcyclists, or pedestrians.

About half of the time, the truck driver or trucking company is “responsible” for the causation of the crash, according to the Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Their research found that commercial trucks were at fault in 55% of all crashes involving large trucks and either a single vehicle or multiple vehicles, but when the crash occurred and only involved one large truck and one passenger vehicle, large trucks were only at fault in 44% of cases. (Fault was assigned by their criteria, and not legally.)

That data proves that about half the time, you do not have control over whether or not you are involved in a trucking accident if you are the driver of a passenger vehicle. Nor are trucks leaving the roads anytime soon. However, there are many things that you can do to minimize your own liability, increase your awareness of the road, and keep yourself and your family safe to the best of your ability. Here are 10 tips for sharing the road with commercial trucks in Florida!

  1. Never drive in a truck’s blind spot.

    Trucks are 20-30 times larger and heavier than the average passenger vehicle; they are bigger, and so are their blind spots. Trucks have four blind spots: directly in front of them (20 feet), directly behind them (30 feet), the lane on the left side of their vehicle, and two lanes on the right front side of their vehicle. If you are driving in a truck’s blind spot, they cannot see your vehicle, and it is much more likely that you will be involved in a crash.

  2. Always pass safely & quickly.

    If you are passing a truck, do it quickly, in order to avoid riding in the side blind spots we just mentioned. Make sure that you have your blinker on for a few seconds before you attempt to pass, so the truck driver is aware of your intentions. Never pass on the right side, the truck’s largest blind spot; always pass on the left.

  3. Merge clearly and carefully.

    Make sure that you have enough time to pass and merge safely. Trucks take longer to slow and stop, so if you are planning on jumping right in front of them, you will either be in their blind spot or too close for them to react to your vehicle. Instead, once you are ahead of their blind spots, put your blinker on for several seconds to make them aware of your intentions, and then merge into their lane (well beyond their front blind spot).

  4. If a truck is carrying “loose” materials, do not drive behind them.

    Some trucking accidents occur because materials that a flatbed truck is carrying fly off or roll off (for example, logs). Do not drive behind a truck that is carrying open materials, even if they seem securely tightened. It is in your best interests to drive in another lane, either far behind them or with the intention of passing them.

  5. Keep a safe following distance regardless of truck type.

    Even if the truck is not carrying anything visibly, it is a good idea to avoid driving behind them anyway, and it is imperative to maintain a safe following distance in case the truck does brake. Because trucks are higher off the ground than passenger cars, terrible injuries or death can occur if your car is unable to stop in time and slides underneath the truck. The blind spot behind trucks extends to 30 feet, so give yourself even more room than that to follow.

  6. Stay off of your phone.

    Driving on highways or for long periods of time can become boring, and drivers may get restless enough to think that they can just scroll through their social media real quick, as long as the road is straight, or send a text to a friend, check their emails, or call someone. This is a huge, and sometimes deadly, mistake… any kind of distracted driving can cause you to lose awareness of your surroundings, travel farther than you meant to on the road without looking up, and collide with other vehicles. If you are texting, you may drift or miss a truck’s turn signal, and the consequences can be catastrophic.

  7. Anticipate wide turns & avoid them.

    Because trucks are made up of two parts – a cab and a trailer – and because they are so massive, they need extra space to swing wide and turn, and passenger drivers who aren’t thinking about this can make it extra difficult for them. A truck needs a 55 feet radius to turn safely, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Never attempt to get between a truck that is turning and the curb; in fact, if you are next to a truck that is turning, it is prudent to give them a few seconds headstart to ensure they have enough room and you are not in their blind spot. When stopping at red lights, never go beyond the line especially if a truck is present anywhere in the intersection, because this puts you in their wide turn path.

  8. Don’t pull over on the highway, or try to find a safe spot to do so.

    Many tragic accidents occur because a passenger vehicle pulled over on the right or left shoulder (either ran out of gas, or was having another vehicular performance issue) and was swiped by a passing truck that was either larger than their lane or swerved onto the shoulder slightly. Stopping on the highway is extremely dangerous; if you must stop, try to find a wider shoulder or a designated pull-off spot, and never stay on the road side of your vehicle inspecting a tire, etc.

  9. Be patient.

    Trucks are large and hard to maneuver. Truck drivers often drive long distances and work long hours. Do not tailgate them, honk horns at them unnecessarily, or otherwise bother them on the road if they are taking longer to do things your vehicle could do quickly. Impatience and frustration can lead to accidents.

  10. Know what to do in case of an accident.

    Driving on the road with trucks means that you need to be prepared for the possibility of an accident, and you need to have a plan for what you will do if one occurs. Your first step after being in a truck accident is to call 911, even if you do not “feel” injured – adrenaline may prevent you from feeling the full extent of your injuries. If you are alert and uninjured enough to be able to do so, take pictures of the scene. Avoid saying phrases that indicate you might have been at fault in the accident, like “I’m sorry” – those may be used against you later, and you do not have all the details about the other driver yet. Once you have received a full medical examination and been treated for any injuries, it is important to call a local personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Insurance companies will often attempt to devalue or discredit injured accident victims’ claims because paying less in medical costs protects their bottom line, but the accident may end up costing you thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Florida Law Group has recovered over $1 billion for our clients. We know what it takes to recover a fair settlement and we will never let you settle for less than what you deserve if you are injured in a trucking accident in Florida. Call now for a free consultation!