Many drivers instinctively become nervous and defensive around big trucks. They may grip the steering wheel tightly, drop their speed and otherwise try to adjust for what they perceive as an environmental risk.
Such changes in driving behavior are smart because commercial trucks are arguably the most dangerous vehicles on the road. While they only play a role in a fraction of the total collisions that occur every year, they are responsible for some of the worst property damage and most catastrophic injuries that you can imagine.
Understanding how big trucks contribute to catastrophic injuries can help more drivers stay safe.
The design of smaller vehicles doesn’t focus on commercial crashes
Motor vehicle manufacturers invest millions of dollars to test each new vehicle they design for safety purposes. They run crash simulations over and over to make sure that the vehicle properly protects the occupants in the event of a wreck.
Unfortunately, the size of big trucks can potentially render many safety features useless. Especially in underride collisions, which involve passenger vehicles ending up underneath commercial vehicles, passenger vehicle safety features will do little to protect the occupants.
Big trucks often travel at higher speeds
The most likely place you are to encounter commercial vehicles is on interstates and highways. While they may take rural roads and surface streets, the goal is usually efficient travel, which means driving where the speed limits are highest and where there are the fewest stops necessary.
Big trucks traveling at highway speeds may not be able to stop in time before striking another vehicle, possibly causing life-altering injuries for the people inside the smaller vehicle.
Even on surface streets, big blind spots create a lot of risk
It can be as dangerous to pull up next to a commercial truck at a four-way stop as it is to merge in front of one on the highway. Commercial trucks are so long and tall that drivers simply can’t see all the way around them. Vehicles too close to a truck when they merge or turn may be right in a blind spot, leading to a horrific crash.
Wide turns and difficulty maneuvering, as well as longer stopping distances all contribute to the risk that a commercial truck will cause a crash. Identifying what risk factors contributed to a crash can help those hurt in a wreck or those who lost a loved one take the right steps after a commercial truck crash.