Avoiding large truck collisions in California

The U.S. DoT recorded 3,986 large truck crash fatalities in 2016 through its Fatality Analysis Reporting System. When compared to FARS data in 2009, this represents a 27 percent jump in fatalities. Considering the great weight of commercial trucks, it's no surprise that 66 percent of those fatalities were passenger vehicle occupants.

Drivers will want to know how they can stay safe around large trucks. First, drivers should not become distracted by their smartphones or other electrical devices. They should be aware of the trucker's movements, noting any unsafe behaviors like drifting in and out of lanes. Truckers may swerve out of the way of debris or oil spills, letting drivers know about road conditions ahead of time.

Passenger vehicle drivers should stay over 500 feet behind the truck, never tailgating. If they can see ahead of the truck, they should do so for at least one fourth or one half of a mile and react accordingly when brake lights or emergency flashers are observed in the distance.

Lastly, drivers must take weather conditions into account. Snow creates ice, which can cause cars to wipe out. In heavy rain, truckers can splash water and mud onto vehicle windshields. The best advice is to slow down, keep a safe distance and pull over if weather conditions are too much to handle.

Some truck accidents are caused by truck driver negligence. Truckers may, for example, become drowsy or distracted behind the wheel. Victims of such accidents can be left with medical expenses, the need for rehabilitative care, lost income, lost earning capacity and other losses. They might be compensated, though, through a personal injury claim. A lawyer may be able to negotiate on their behalf for a fair settlement from the trucking company, litigating if a settlement cannot be agreed upon.

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