A recent truck accident in a southern Chicago suburb is bringing renewed attention to the dangers posed by large vehicles on public roadways as well as reminding motorists of what they should do to keep themselves as safe as possible.
Because of semi-truck’s large size, when one is involved in a collision the results can be disastrous. The maximum weight of a semi-truck and full trailer is 80,000 pounds, while the average passenger vehicle weighs less than 3,500 pounds, meaning a semi-truck can be 22 times the size of a car. With this it is easy to see how a collision with a big rig can be deadly, especially when factoring in high speeds and potentially dangerous cargo.
“Almost 4,000 people lose their lives in large truck accidents every year, and truck driver fatigue shares a large portion of the blame.”
– Attorney David Slepkow, this website
Although most truck drivers are responsible and abide by hours of service rules, there are many who ignore regulations.
When drivers are fatigued their reaction times are slowed and their decision-making skills suffer. Drivers can easily fall asleep at the wheel after long shifts without even realizing how tired they truly are. Driving while fatigued is especially dangerous when controlling a massive vehicle like a semi-truck. A mistake as small as drifting into the next lane for only a few seconds can result in death if a smaller vehicle is forced into a highway divider.
New regulations passed in 2011 attempted to curb this hazardous trend by lowering maximum driving hours for large trucks and requiring drivers take breaks in between and during shifts. However, many companies do not enforce these rules, and drivers dedicated to making deliveries on time are often tempted to break the rules. While it may be tempting, it is critically important for truckers to realize that not abiding by national and state laws, including those of Illinois, can lead to serious charges against them and can lead to legal liability if they are involved in a collision. The at-fault truck driver may be responsible and so may the owner of the truck, the trucker’s employer, or anyone else who played a role in the crash.
Seeing as Chicago is the one of the largest city in the Midwest making it popular travel hub for many trucking companies, accidents involving large trucks are quite common in Illinois as evinced by recent tragedies.
Unfortunately you cannot count on other drivers to act within accordance of the law at all times so each driver should take steps to ensure her safety. It is important to use extreme caution when driving next to, behind, or in front of large trucks. Always try to keep a larger than normal distance from the truck, as larger vehicles require more time to stop in unexpected situations. It is also a good idea to avoid driving directly parallel to a truck in case the driver loses control or drifts into your lane. This advice is especially important to remember when driving late at night or in the early morning when drivers tend to be the most fatigued.
Note the routes that are likely to have a heavy concentration of trucks and be prepared for trucks to be present in those areas. If you are expecting a semi at any moment on the Dan Ryan, for example, you will not be surprised when one comes into view and you will be prepared to take evasive action if necessary.
Always yield the right-of-way to a truck and make sure you give a semi extra space to merge or turn as their large and heavy loads require more room to maneuver. When it doubt, slow down as speed is believed to be a factor in approximately 50 percent of car accidents in this country and lowering your speed could dramatically improve your odds of remaining free from a crash.
Prior Blog Entry:
Ride Sharing Apps Fail to Lower Drunk Driving Rates in Chicago, Nation, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published August 1, 2016.
3 Killed in Fiery Crash Involving Several Vehicles on I-80 Near Ottawa, NBC 5 Chicago, published August 1, 2016.
Why We Care About Truck Driver Fatigue, by Anthony Foxx, U.S. Department of Transportation.
“Automobiles on Steroids”: Cars Aren’t as Efficient as They Could Be, by Rachel Smith, U.S. News and World Report, published January 5, 2012.