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"Semi" safety? Better safe than sorry when trucks are involved

As you are probably well aware, Kentucky highways can be a dangerous place. From poor road conditions to tired or distracted drivers, there are a variety of traffic factors that pose a potential threat to you and your loved ones. One especially alarming danger, though, is that of motor vehicle accidents involving commercial trucks.

Semis and tractor trailers don't just seem more threatening; the reality is that they are. While the number of fatal traffic accidents in large trucks does appear to be declining, any crash involving a truck has a much higher likelihood of fatalities and catastrophic injury, due in no small part to the size difference between the vehicles. So what factors contribute to these horrific accidents and how can you protect yourself and your loved ones?

The primary causes of truck accidents

If you believe that the majority of commercial truck crashes are due to fatigue, you're not alone in this assumption. This well-known "fact" is actually false, though. While driver fatigue does account for 13 percent of truck collisions, that percentage is not only much lower than many people expect, but it includes tiredness on the part of the car driver as well. The other top causes of truck accidents are:

  • Interruption of traffic flow
  • Unfamiliarity with roadways
  • Inadequate surveillance
  • Driving too fast for conditions
  • Illegal maneuvers
  • Inattention
  • Illness
  • False assumption of other driver's actions
  • Distraction by object or person inside the vehicle

The above factors appear in descending order by commonality on the part of the truck driver. That's especially frightening because you, as the driver of a non-commercial vehicle, have no control over most of these factors. You may feel like you have little choice but to rely on the truck driver to make responsible decisions and hope the trucking company provided adequate training for its employees. Thankfully, though, there are a few things you can do to improve your safety when you find yourself near a truck.

Safety for non-commercial drivers

Of course, in a perfect world, all drivers -- especially truck drivers -- would be careful on the road all of the time, and you wouldn't need to worry. As this isn't the case, it may be useful to remember that, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, driver decisions are the reason for most large truck accidents. This includes drivers failing to maintain a sufficient amount of space between moving vehicles and drivers traveling at unsafe speeds for current road conditions.

According to accident data, drivers of non-commercial, smaller vehicles are responsible for most of the traffic collisions that involve large trucks, so if you are careful to maintain a safe distance between your car and any nearby trucks, to make sure you're not overly tired before you get behind the wheel of your car, and to drive at safe speeds, these few precautions alone can go a long way toward improving your safety.

Where to turn for support after an accident

Of course, no matter how careful you are, you cannot control the behavior of unsafe drivers. Truck accidents frequently cause significant, serious injuries with a lengthy -- and expensive -- recovery period. If you or a loved one is unfortunate enough to suffer injury due to the fault or negligence of a truck driver, there are resources available in Kentucky to help you fight for the compensation you need and hold the responsible parties liable, whether that is the at-fault truck driver and/or the trucking company as well.

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