Why Are Large Trucks Accident-Prone?
Car accidents can be painful and devastating, depending on how severe the collision is. When a large truck is involved, the outcome is generally far worse, and the resulting injuries can be severe.
Because large trucks take up more space and weigh significantly more than the sedans and SUVs on the road, they do far more damage during a crash. This is why truck driver errors, poor driving from smaller vehicles, and other common causes of truck accidents must be avoided.
Preventing truck accidents begins with understanding what causes them. Large trucks have many differences compared to standard passenger vehicles that specifically make them accident-prone. Let’s dive into those differences now.
Arguably the most obvious reason for truck accidents is the operational difficulty involved. Large trucks, especially commercial vehicles, require specific licensing and training before they can be operated normally.
This is referred to as a commercial driver’s license (CDL) with three different classifications (A, B, & C) depending on the specific type of vehicle being operated.
This means that the large trucks you see on the road are being driven by someone carefully trained to operate that type of truck specifically.
That said, they are still tough to drive due to their size. Even with the best training, large truck drivers must still work within the limits of their machinery.
The size of large trucks results in a natural weakness that makes it harder to see and move around on the road. In turn, accidents can quickly happen when a truck driver cannot see and react in time to avoid a smaller car driving in their blind spot.
This is why other drivers must be safe and predictable when driving around large trucks. They cannot handle situations as quickly and effectively as smaller cars can.
Another reason why trucks get into accidents is because of their lengthy usage. Because most large trucks are used commercially, their intended purpose is the regular transportation of supplies and products needed for a business. This means that large truck drivers are driving a job, typically meaning long hours on the road.
Most smaller passenger cars only drive an hour or two for daily purposes. On the other hand, a long-haul truck driver can easily spend eight or more hours on the road.
Regulations are in place to limit how many hours a truck driver spends on the road, but these are sometimes overlooked in favor of completing a job quickly. Truck drivers are in limited supply, and businesses don’t like to wait for their products, so extra hours might be unethically encouraged.
With this in mind, it is safe to assume that a large truck driver will drive for several hours. The more time spent on the road, the greater the number of opportunities for an accident. Add in the factor of fatigue from many hours of focus, and it’s clear that large truck drivers cause accidents from being overworked.
Increased Stopping Distance
Another major cause of truck accidents is their significantly increased stopping distance. This is another byproduct of the size, and, more importantly, the weight of large trucks.
The heavier a truck is, the more force it carries when traveling along the road. When the truck needs to stop, more force is required to make the truck stop. This results in a longer time to stop and a greater distance traveled before that happens.
As you can expect, this directly translates to more accidents when the ability to brake and prevent a collision is directly hampered. Large truck drivers can only stop with the space they are given, and this often becomes an issue on highways with impatient drivers.
The issue here is that large trucks need roughly double the space to stop that a normal car would and most other drivers don’t accommodate this. As the speed of the truck increases, this stopping time will also increase, making highways especially dangerous.
With large trucks needing more space to stop and smaller cars regularly impeding upon that, accidents become far more common.
A final reason why trucks are so accident-prone is that they are often inadequately maintained. This is not difficult to understand when you realize that commercial vehicles are only used to make money. Spending money to cover repairs is a loss and hurts overall profits.
For some businesses, it is more important than maximizing profits over ensuring that company trucks are safe to drive. This is a terrible situation for the driver, who cannot take care of the truck themself, because now they must operate a potentially hazardous or malfunctioning vehicle.
When these poorly maintained large trucks are on the road, they become dangerous to the smaller cars nearby. This can result in dangerous issues like worn brakes, tire blowouts, and loose cargo. Large trucks can also stall or break down, which can leave a large hazard on the road if they are unable to reach the shoulder.
Large trucks are already rugged to drive safely, so a lack of maintenance further complicates this ability. Unfortunately, this problem isn’t likely to change soon due to the incentive to prioritize profits. In turn, large trucks will continue to cause accidents.
Why Are Large Trucks Accident-Prone: Closing Thoughts
The large trucks on the road have risk factors that increase their chances of crashing with a car. These accidents are incredibly frustrating because they are often preventable with better decision-making from the truck driver or the other drivers on the road.
In particular, large trucks are accident-prone for a few reasons. This includes operational difficulty, lengthy usage rate, increased stopping distance, and lack of maintenance.
Because large trucks are inherently at risk of being in an accident, the other drivers on the road have a greater responsibility to be aware of this and drive accordingly. By giving significant truck drivers plenty of space and driving visibly and predictably, you can make their job easier and significantly reduce the chance of an accident.