Not everyone knows just how vital the trucking industry is to the Colorado economy. Recently, the Colorado Motor Vehicle Association reported that the trucking industry pays for 33 percent of the state’s federal and state roadway taxes. Unfortunately, even with all the good they do for the economy, trucks are still huge risks on Colorado highways. They are large and imposing, and many people do not know how to drive safely around them. Do you know how to avoid a truck accident in Colorado?
Unfortunately, traffic-related deaths are so common that the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has placed message boards across the state to display the year’s current number of fatalities. In their own words, “We hope this weekly memorial will be a wake-up call for everyone to drive more safely. Remember: It’s a person, not a number.”
Most truck accidents, like most car accidents in general, happen as a result of negligence. In the case of truck accidents, the truck driver, the trucker’s employer, the highway maintenance crews, other drivers, and even parts manufacturers may be held liable for negligence. Fortunately, most truck accidents are 100 percent preventable. There are multiple precautions you can take to uphold your duty of care as a driver.
You have probably heard of blind spots, often called no-zones, before. A blind spot refers to any area obstructed from view. For truck drivers, these areas tend to be both directly in front of and behind the truck. The area right beside a truck’s right door is also a blind spot for a trucker. Avoid driving in these areas whenever possible, especially if you are driving a smaller vehicle. If you do find yourself stuck in a blind spot, try to maintain a safe and steady speed until you can drive away. If you are having trouble determining whether or not you are in a blind spot, try to look for the driver or the truck’s mirrors. If you cannot see them, then you are in a blind spot. Make yourself visible as soon as you can. If you cannot see the driver, then the driver cannot see you.
Because trucks are so much larger than standard vehicles, they require a much longer stopping distance. According to some estimates, most trucks require a 20 to 40 percent longer stopping distance. Keep your patience when driving near trucks, and make sure you are giving them adequate stopping distances—whether they are in front of or behind you. Trucks’ braking power is limited. They need enough stopping distance to prevent an accident.
Drivers often get impatient around trucks, sometimes even going so far as to cut them off—which can lead to disastrous results. If you cut into a trucker’s stopping distance, you may end up with serious injuries. Maintain a safe and steady speed until you can pass on the left to maximize visibility. Do not forget to use your turn signals, and stay out of the blind spots as much as possible. Make sure there is still enough stopping distance when merging back into the lane, and never try to pass a turning truck.
Avoiding turning trucks could be considered an example of defensive driving. It is always important to drive defensively, especially around trucks. Because tractor-trailers are so large, they are particularly dangerous while making turns. They may need to swing left to make a right turn or vice versa. Do not overestimate your ability to navigate around a turning truck, no matter which way it is going. It is not worth the risk. Again, allow trucks plenty of space for turns and stopping distance. Slow down when you see a truck with blinkers on. If you must pass, pass on the outer edge of the road. A trucker may also need to stop on the side of the road due to mechanical failure. When this happens, try to move over at least one lane. The trucker may be outside of their vehicle.
Finally, remember to utilize a common-sense approach whenever you are on the road. Adhere to all relevant road rules and regulations, and keep your focus entirely on the road. You should never be using your phone or any other electronic devices when you are driving. Keep both hands on the wheel at all times, and pull over if you find yourself getting drowsy. Use your turn signals as needed, pass on the left, and always wear a seatbelt. Make sure you are visible at all times by staying out of blind spots and turning on your headlights as needed.
As tempting as it may be, do not succumb to road rage. Everyone knows that traffic is frustrating, and driving certainly is not always the best experience. But road rage will only exacerbate problems, not make them go away. It may even make your situation more dangerous—or even deadly. If another driver is acting aggressively towards you, do not engage. Avoid eye contact and let them pass. Drive to a police station if they will not stop following you. Furthermore, make sure to report any unsafe behavior to the proper authorities. Make a report with local law enforcement and call the trucker’s company’s customer support line if applicable.
Taking care of a truck accident claim can be overwhelming, especially if you were in a smaller car. You need someone you can trust in your corner. We at Injury Victim Law may be able to help. Though we are a Colorado-based firm, our team of experts and investigators is ready and available to assist personal injury victims all across the country. We may even be able to help you catch the driver at fault for your accident. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our trusted nationwide truck accident attorneys. You should never have to pay for somebody else’s mistakes. Let us fight for you and get you the compensation you deserve.