Most vehicles on the road are known as passenger vehicles. In other words, the car you drive to work or the grocery store. A smaller number of vehicles are used commercially. These are mainly large trucks carrying cargo, but several other relatively large vehicles that are used for business also classify as commercial. While there are significantly more passenger cars than commercial vehicles on the road, 13% of fatal accidents involve trucks and buses. This alarming statistic illustrates how dangerous these vehicles can be and the severity of the ensuing accidents.
Any time you are near a commercial vehicle, you should exercise extra caution to prevent an accident. This starts with understanding what makes a commercial accident more likely, which we`ll go over below.
Passenger Vehicle Mishaps
A large percentage of commercial truck accidents are caused by passenger vehicle mishaps.
The main problem with commercial vehicles is that other drivers don`t properly understand them. An 18-wheel truck drives much differently than your average sedan or SUV.
Specifically, larger trucks are much harder to handle. Braking time is increased, vision is reduced, and turns are much wider. Drivers do not always consider this and put truckers into difficult situations that make an accident inevitable.
For example, a car may cut a truck off to change into a faster lane. However, traffic ahead of them may cause the car to rapidly brake. Given the small distance between the truck and car and having a limited time to react, it is unlikely a truck can stop in time to avoid hitting the car.
Anytime you`re driving near commercial vehicles, you must respect them and consider the limitations imposed by driving a larger vehicle. Don`t drive carelessly around them and avoid putting them in an impossible situation.
If a commercial vehicle is speeding, this greatly increases the chances of an accident.
We mentioned above that commercial vehicles are harder to control. Speed only compounds this because greater speed results in less time to react to situations.
In a vehicle that is already particularly slow to react, reducing the window for action makes an accident even more likely. It`s difficult to control any vehicle when speeding, much less one that weighs 20 times more than your average car.
A complication here is that some truck drivers have their compensation tied to delivery times. Alternatively, some have a restriction on how many hours they can work. Reducing travel time results in more trips and more pay overall.
While there are certainly incentives for speeding, it`s incredibly dangerous. As a result, it does cause commercial accidents. Remember this and steer clear of any speeding commercial vehicles.
Another problematic factor for commercial drivers is fatigue.
While the routes that truckers drive may vary, one thing they tend to have in common is long hours. Especially if they are an over the road (OTR) trucker, they will spend their nights sleeping in the truck.
As you can imagine, sleeping in a truck is not comfortable and the quality of sleep they receive is often poor. Compound this with the fact that they likely avoid sleep in favor of arriving at their destination quicker and it`s easy to see how truckers can be fatigued.
Fatigue is very dangerous for anyone operating a vehicle. It can be compared to driving while drunk. Considering that commercial vehicles are already difficult to operate, fatigue only makes it worse.
Fatigued commercial drivers do cause accidents. It can be difficult to prevent or detect this as a passenger vehicle, but be wary of any seemingly spacy driving behavior that may indicate a tired driver.
A final cause of commercial crashes involves driver inattention.
As with passenger cars, distraction is a significant cause for concern. Driving any vehicle requires your full attention at all times.
You must always be watching the road and keeping an eye on other drivers. This allows you to anticipate hazards and make adjustments as necessary.
Distractions eliminate your awareness and make you all but blind. You`re relying on things to continue as they are when you look away from the road, which is putting things up to chance.
Truckers are prone to distraction due to the nature of their job. They spend countless hours in their truck sitting in the same position and holding the wheel in the same way. This can quickly get boring and cause a driver to lose focus.
When your job requires intensely focusing on the road for several hours at a time, it`s hard to imagine that you wouldn`t lose focus at some point. That said, any form of inattentiveness for any length of time is enough to cause an accident.
As dangerous as distractions and inattentiveness are, they do still affect commercial drivers and lead to crashes.
Accidents with other cars are bad enough, but the crash is magnified if you get into an accident with a commercial vehicle. These are large vehicles used for business, often massive trucks that carry goods from one destination to another.
Commercial accidents are common and happen for several different reasons. This includes mishaps by passenger vehicles, speeding, fatigue, and inattention.
Whenever you`re near commercial vehicles, remember that you have more flexibility then they do. Your actions can directly affect them and lead to an accident, so be careful to consider the dangers of a commercial accident!