With the end of summer quickly approaching, many of us will be taking to the roads for Labor Day weekend, vacations, or to take college students back to school. As you head out on the highways, you need to be especially alert of the dangers posed by sharing the road with tractor trailers and other commercial vehicles. As a Philadelphia lawyer who regularly handles truck and commercial vehicle injury cases throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Shrager & Sachs Managing Partner Rob Sachs, Jr. is especially aware of the dangers each of us face when we head out on the roads and highways.
When you follow, approach, pass or are ahead of trucks on the road, keep these tips in mind:
- They can’t see you very easily– professional truck drivers have to rely on their mirrors to see what is behind them. Make sure they can see you as you approach them. This is a useful diagram to understand what truck drivers can and can’t see: you have to pay attention to when you are in the driver’s blind spot; and d on’t linger when passing a truck, and always have a safe “out” in mind if the truck swerves or comes into your lane while you are passing the truck.
- Trucks are much heavier than cars and they don’t maneuver nearly as easily– Most tractor-trailers can weigh up to 80,000 pounds (even more for “tandem” trailers), it takes longer to stop. Don’t cut in front of a truck, leave plenty of room and signal before changing lanes in front of a truck. Truck drivers will often flash their lights as a signal that they see you and it’s clear for you to change lanes. Consider doing the same when a truck is trying to move in front of you – you’ll be surprised how often the truck will blink its running lights to say “thanks for being courteous to a truck.”
- Truckers are allowed to drive up to 11 hours/day– How alert are you after doing anything for 11 hours? You’ll never know if the truck you are approaching is at the beginning or end of his or her shift…why take a chance? Always assume that the truck driver near you might not be as alert as at other times of the day.
When you sit for 11 hours every day and eat on the road, it is hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The incidence of obesity among truck drivers is very high. One of the biggest complications of obesity is sleep apnea…you’ll never know if the driver of the truck ahead of you got a horrible night’s sleep due to sleep apnea. This risk just compounds the potential danger of over-tired drivers on America’s roads
- Truckers come from across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico– The driver might not know the directions and that could cause sudden or unexpected changes. Expect the unexpected – especially when you’re near a truck. Even worse, the driver may not speak English. Every driver in the U.S. is supposed to be able to read and speak English. Sadly, in our practice we have seen examples where this simply isn’t true. A driver who can’t read signs and follow directional instructions is a danger to you and your family.
The vast majority of American truckers drive very safely. However, a small percentage of drivers don’t follow the rules and endanger all of us. You can make a difference in your family’s safety on the roads by following these simple safety tips.
If you or a member of your family is injured by a truck or commercial vehicle, call the experienced Pennsylvania and New Jersey truck accident lawyers atShrager & Sachs at (888) 899-0652 for a free initial consultation.