At approximately 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 16, a horrific multi-vehicle crash along I-64 in Putnam County resulted in the fatality of one 42-year-old man and sent eight others to nearby hospitals. According to the Putnam Country Sherriff's Department, the multi-vehicle crash was caused by a westbound semi tractor trailer truck that jumped the center median.
The out-of-control truck struck an eastbound semi head-on, which caused the chain reaction traffic accident. In total, four tractor trailer trucks and two cars were involved in the crash. The official cause of the crash is still under investigation.
With more than 15 million commercial trucks in operation throughout the United States, there is no doubt about the important and vital role that the trucking industry plays an in our nation's economy. There is also, however, as this most-recent tragic accident proves, no doubt about the tremendous dangers that these trucks can pose to other drivers and passengers.
During 2014 alone, nearly 4,000 people throughout the U.S. died in fatal truck accidents and thousands more suffered painful and debilitating injuries. While the trucking industry is regulated, in recent years there have been reports of trucking companies that fail to ensure that their fleets are regularly inspected and maintained. Additionally the sheer size of many of these trucks coupled with the heavy and awkward loads they carry, can be a recipe for disaster. And while the vast majority of truck drivers are experienced and responsible professionals, the demands of the profession can lead to fatigue, drug use and other health problems.
While some truck accidents are unavoidable, drivers of smaller personal vehicles would be wise to heed the following advice when sharing the road with commercial trucks.
3 safety tips for sharing the road with large trucks
- Beware and aware of a truck's blind spots - A commercial truck's length and height mean that a truck driver's blind spots cover a much larger surface area, encompassing 20 feet in front and 30 feet in back of a truck as well as the adjacent lanes.
- Don't hit the breaks - While the average personal vehicle weighs around 4,000 pounds, a loaded commercial truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds which means that it takes much longer for a truck to slow and stop. It's never, therefore, a good idea to cut in front of a truck or slam on the brakes when a truck is trailing your vehicle.
- Stay back and stay alive - It's especially important to give a truck that is making a right turn extra space. Large trucks have a much wider turning radius and vehicles that creep up alongside and are in a truck's blind spot risk being hit.
If you or a family member is involved in a truck accident, it's important to thoroughly investigate any and all factors that may have contributed to the crash. In cases where a trucking company or truck driver is found to be responsible for causing the accident, compensation may be awarded.