How often have you visited a relative or friends house and swapped stories regarding how a truck frightened the life out of them when they were driving on the highway to their grandfather’s house? Every one of us knows someone who has had a truck accident related narrative to share. One of the major sources of highway and hilly road related accidents are trucks and trailers. Now most people who have had a near call with a truck or trailer on the road will tend to blame the truck drivers for driving rashly and ignoring the lane rules or simply refusing to acknowledge their presence on the road. While it is undoubtedly true that a lot of truck drivers drive rather rashly and ignore a lot of traffic rules, quite often it happens that the drivers of the smaller family vehicles are to blame. A lot of people are unaware of the mechanics of driving a truck. Truck drivers drive their vehicles in a manner that is different from family vehicles in terms of speed, turning, braking, lane changing and a lot of other factors. And since truck drivers are usually paid based on how much time it takes for them to transport the goods, they are almost always in an eternal hurry to get from one location to another.
Therefore we at CarDekho bring to you the top five factors that cause truck related accidents.
1.Trucks Have Blind Spots – Lots of them! Every vehicle has a blind spot that the drivers have to deal with. However with trucks this is magnified due to their size. They have rather large blind spots to their right and the rear of the vehicle. Unlike a regular passenger vehicle, trucks do not have rear view mirrors and since they have no rear wind shield, it’s pointless to install one. The truck drivers will rarely be able to see a small vehicle or motorist that is directly behind them and passenger car drivers should be aware of this before they get frustrated with truckers in front of them. Another major blind spot that truckers suffer from is located on their left. This is due to the width of the truck. Truckers often have trouble viewing what is located on their left side despite the large side view mirrors.
The best thing to do is to ensure that you do not stay over long at the blind spots. If you want to overtake a truck from the left, do so quickly and smoothly and if possible flash your high beam to let them know you plan to overtake them. Most truck drivers have no problem with the faster moving vehicles overtaking them while on long stretches of roads
2.Do Not Attempt a Cut-Off – You're driving on the highway and see a truck in front of you and another obstacle to the left of the truck. You see a small gap between the truck and the obstacle to its left. You decide you can squeeze through the gap and take the opportunity to cut off the truck. Bad idea. A truck will take as much as three times the time it takes you to come to a complete halt. This is obvious considering their enormous size. If you try to cut them off there is a good chance you will end up turning your car into a metal coffin for yourself or your family. If you do plan on cutting off a truck, do not linger at the spot after the cut-off. Do not attempt any cut-off's where you will have to slow down immediately after the cut-off. Instead after you cut-off the truck make sure you have room to maintain a speed higher than that of the truck so he doesn't have to slow down.
3.A Reversing Truck – Yes, that is one of the most annoying sights ever especially in traffic. However keep in mind that it may not be worth the effort to try to circumvent the truck while it’s reversing. Also since a truck is a large lumbering object, it is not a very easy task to reverse it into a tight corner while keeping all the obstacles in view. Keep your patience and let the trucker do his job and you will keep your car and yourself from getting hurt in the process.
4.Do Not Attempt to Force a Truck to Obey Road Rules - Do not try to make a truck follow the usual road rules. Chances are you will end up in a tin can if you go head on head with a truck. If you see a truck breaking any of the trucking rules, carry on driving and do not attempt to stop or harass him. There are people called policemen paid out of your tax money to ensure that everyone obeys traffic rules. Playing policeman with a truck by forcing him to move to the side or slow down or any such manoeuvre will probably result in the truck crashing into your car. It is best to move on let the traffic police take care of the law breaking trucker.
5.Lane Changing – When it comes to changing lanes to take a turn, no one has more trouble than trucks, especially if they have to change to the fast lane. Very few people will willingly let a truck come in front of them while they are driving on the fast lane. Try and look at it from his point of view. He may want to take a turn up ahead and is preparing to make an early lane change so he doesn't disturb motorists at the turn itself and cause a pileup. If a trucker is denied a lane change all the way up until the turn, he will get desperate and decide to take advantage of the massive size of his vehicle to force a turn from the wrong side of the lane. This will not end well for you or the other motorists at the intersection.
According to most statistics, the three most common causes of truck accidents are:
1.Crashes caused due to a truck not given enough time to stop.
2.Crashes caused due to a motorist attempting to cut-off a truck from the left while the truck is taking a left-hand turn.
3.Crashes caused due to a motorist driving in a trucks blind spot.
Keep these three things in mind the next time you attempt any of these manoeuvres and apply your common sense and you will not have to tell anyone how you barely survived an encounter with a 20-foot monster truck.
Photography by Sitaram Swami