In late January, a woman died after a tractor-trailer crossed the center line of Interstate 90 in Rapid City and collided with her SUV. The Associated Press did not include many additional details in its news article about the crash, but noted that the truck driver may be charged in relation to the incident.
Unfortunately, deaths and serious injuries are common results of crashes between tractor-trailers and passenger vehicles. Over 4,400 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes in 2016, and the occupants of passenger vehicles account for eight out of every 10 people killed in crashes involving large trucks, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
What causes tractor-trailer crashes?
Often, tractor-trailer crashes are caused by the negligence of a truck driver. It is unclear why the truck driver in Rapid City crossed the center line, but similar cases have involved truck drivers who fell asleep at the wheel, who were texting and driving or who were driving drunk. Truck drivers may also cause crashes by not completing safety checks, not properly securing their load or otherwise cutting corners on safety protocols.
However, there have also been times when the actions of other drivers have caused crashes involving tractor-trailers. This can happen when passenger vehicles linger in the large blind spots tractor-trailers have. It can also happen when a driver cuts off a tractor-trailer or gets in the path of a tractor-trailer as it is turning. Often drivers make these mistakes because they do not understand the operating limitations of these large vehicles.
Safely share the road with tractor-trailers
When you share the road with tractor-trailers, remember that tractor-trailers have large blind spots on all four sides. If you cannot see the driver’s face in the truck’s mirror, the driver probably cannot see you. In general, it is good to leave plenty of space between your vehicle and a tractor-trailer.
If you must pass a tractor-trailer, make your intentions clear by using your turn signal, pass on the driver’s side and allow plenty of space between you and the tractor-trailer before merging in front of it. Keep in mind that tractor-trailers require much more space to come to a complete stop than passenger vehicles require.
You can also anticipate that large vehicles will need extra space when completing a turn. Never get between a turning tractor-trailer and the curb, and avoid stopping in front of the stop line. These actions will help keep you out of the path of turning vehicles.
All drivers have a responsibility to safely share the road. However, crashes involving tractor-trailers can be especially dangerous, and often, drivers who are injured in this type of crash are able to seek compensation for their medical expenses.