Large trucks require more training and caution to drive because there are so many variables to manage while driving. When truck drivers lose control, rollover accidents are a very real possibility and are incredibly dangerous. In fact, 48% of occupant deaths in large trucks are caused by rollovers, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
When it comes to how often they occur, truck rollovers happen every day. Even though truck drivers have tons of training and have to be certified, American Truck Business Services (ATBS) reports that driver error is the main reason that trucks overturn. Drivers misjudging a turn, speeding, or driving distractedly could all be considered driver error.
Since truck rollover accidents are common, what are some other causes?
What Causes Truck Rollover Accidents?
There are plenty of causes of rollover accidents that have to do with driver error in one way or another. In a study done by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), an analysis of 239 rollover crashes showed that half were from a brake defect. On top of that, ATBS claims that vehicle condition is a contributing factor in these accidents. Truck drivers should always properly inspect their trucks before hauling because damaged or old parts could easily cause an accident, regardless of how good of a driver you are.
Trailers are where most of a truck’s weight comes from. When the trailer’s cargo is unevenly distributed, the rig is at greater risk of rolling over. When the truck is pulling a tanker that isn’t full, it can have the same effect as uneven goods in a trailer, and tip more easily. A truck’s load should be balanced, centered, and properly secured so that the probability of overturning is reduced as much as possible.
While rollovers can happen on curves, ATBS states that over half of overturns happen on straight roads. Even though it’s a less common cause, when a driver oversteers or takes a turn too quickly, an uneven load is more likely to move to one side and cause the truck to roll.
How to Avoid a Potential Truck Accident
When you’re driving on the highway around tractor trailers, there are red flags you can watch for to attempt to avoid an accident. Even the most experienced drivers can make serious mistakes. Here’s what to keep in mind to keep you safe while driving:
- Slow down. When driving around trucks, you should maintain the speed limit so that the truck drivers can better predict what you’re about to do. If you’re speeding, they might not see you until the last minute, which could be dangerous. Staying on the slower side also allows you more space to brake if you need to.
- Stay out of the truck’s blind spots. Speaking of danger, tractor trailers have blind spots to be wary of. Right in front of the cab, right behind the trailer, and to the back right and left of the trailer are considered no zones where you should avoid. In general, you should stay in spots where you can see the driver in their sideview mirror, which means that they can see you as well.
- Give the tractor trailer more space than usual. We’ve talked about blind spots, but also give the rig more space than you would a regular vehicle because they need more room to stop and sometimes need to make split decisions. Extra space will also allow you and them more space for braking if necessary.
- Signal early. While this is a tip that applies to all driving scenarios, you’ll want to signal early around large trucks because they need more time to react to your actions. The earlier you signal, the better they can anticipate what you’re planning to do, like passing them or getting back into their lane.
- Pass carefully. Since trucks have blind spots, you should never pass on their right side. If you must pass them, always pass on their left, but be careful because you will be passing through their blind spots and they might have to come into your lane unexpectedly.
Truck accidents can easily turn serious. In 2017, Maryland had 48 accident fatalities involving large trucks. If you or a loved one has been in a crash with a tractor trailer, you could use legal representation from a lawyer at Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC. Our team will fight tirelessly for you against other parties and insurance companies who push you to settle early. Contact us today so that we can discuss your case and possible courses of action.