How can Truck Drivers Avoid Accidents Over Memorial Day Weekend?

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The Memorial Day weekend is one of the busiest travel weekends of the year, with over 40 million Americans hitting the road for the holiday. Unfortunately, it also marks the beginning of the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer, which last from Memorial Day to Labor Day. During this time, there is a significant increase in car accidents, particularly those that involve inexperienced teen drivers. Motorists who are traveling to various destinations during this time are also sharing the roads with large commercial trucks. Increased traffic, distracted drivers who are eager to get to their weekend destinations, and sudden weather changes are just a few factors that can increase the risk of a devastating truck accident over the Memorial Day weekend. Truck drivers are urged to use extra caution and make safety a priority while sharing the road with holiday travelers.

What are Common Causes of Truck Accidents?

Unfortunately, truck accidents are rarely minor fender-benders. In fact, they often cause massive property damage and severe personal injury, if the occupant of the passenger vehicle is fortunate enough to survive the crash. There are a range of factors that can increase the risk of a deadly truck accident, including the following:

  • Drowsy driving: This is a common problem in the trucking industry because of a number of factors, including the tight deadlines imposed on truck drivers, long hours behind the wheel, and the sedentary lifestyle of truck drivers. Despite the hours of service (HOS) regulations, truck drivers often exceed the number of hours they are supposed to be behind the wheel. Sleep deprivation can cause truck drivers to lose concentration and coordination and can result in slower reaction times. In extreme situations, truck drivers can fall asleep at the wheel.
  • Distracted driving: If a truck driver is distracted by a phone call, a text, changing the radio signal, or anything else that takes his or her attention off the road even for a moment, it can result in a devastating accident if the truck hits another motorist while driving during the busy holiday weekend.
  • Impaired driving: Unfortunately, there is a high rate of alcohol and drug abuse among truck drivers. In fact, a recent study found that 50 percent of truck drivers drank alcohol, 30 percent took amphetamines, and 20 percent used marijuana while on the job. Although some truck drivers take amphetamines to help them stay awake, they often become drowsy when the stimulant begins to wear off.
  • Speeding: This is dangerous driving behavior under any circumstances. However, when a massive truck is speeding on a busy highway during a holiday weekend, it can have devastating, even fatal consequences. Accidents involving a truck driver who is speeding are particularly devastating because of the extreme force of the impact.
  • Poor truck maintenance: When a truck has not been properly maintained, there is an increased risk of accidents caused by things such as tire blowouts, brake failure, and other maintenance-related issues. Truck drivers should always conduct a thorough maintenance check before each trip and have the necessary repairs made before hitting the road.
  • Improper cargo loading: When the cargo is not loaded or secured properly, it can come loose and fall into the road, hitting other vehicles in the vicinity. Even if the cargo does not fall off the truck, loose cargo can cause the trailer to become improperly balanced, making it difficult for the truck driver to maintain control of the rig.

What Safety Tips Should Truck Drivers Follow During Memorial Day Weekend?

Truck drivers have a responsibility to follow the rules of the road, get enough rest, and keep their attention focused on the road. It is particularly important that they use extra caution and make safety a top priority over the Memorial Day weekend, when the roads are busier than normal. The following are important safety tips that all truck drivers should follow as they travel over the busy holiday weekend:

  • Plan ahead: Truck drivers should anticipate heavy traffic and allow significantly more time to make their deliveries. This will help avoid unsafe driving behaviors such as speeding, tailgating, drowsy driving, and reckless driving.
  • Avoid distractions: Over the busy holiday weekend, it is particularly important that truck drivers keep their attention focused on the road. That means putting the phone away, as well as anything else that may take his or her attention off the road.
  • Keep the truck well maintained: It is highly recommended that truck drivers thoroughly inspect their vehicle at least every season. This should include checking the tire pressure, fluid levels, brakes, belts, and hoses. A tire blowout on a busy highway can cause a catastrophic accident involving multiple vehicles.
  • Check the weather report: Weather conditions can change quickly during the summer months. Although Memorial Day is not technically summer, the warm weather can bring severe thunderstorms, rain, and heavy winds. Truck drivers are urged to avoid driving during severe weather. However, if this is not an option, they must slow down, pay attention to other vehicles in the vicinity, and use extreme caution.
  • Check blind spots regularly: Although motorists should avoid driving in a truck’s blind spot, truck drivers must check their blind spots often, using their side and rear-view mirrors. By checking the mirrors often, the truck driver will have a better sense of whether a car is moving into the truck’s blind spot.
  • Practice defensive driving: This is highly encouraged over the Memorial Day holiday, since significantly more motorists will be sharing the road. Even the safest, most responsible truck driver cannot control how other motorists drive. Defensive driving tactics, including reducing speed, scanning the road ahead, checking the mirrors, and changing lanes if another motorist appears to be driving aggressively, can help prevent a serious accident.
  • Maintain a safe following distance: With the heavy holiday traffic, many motorists get impatient and drive too closely to the car in front of them. This is extremely dangerous when an 80,000-pound commercial truck is following a passenger vehicle too closely. If the car stops suddenly, it is unlikely that the truck will be able to slow down in time to avoid rear-ending the car. If the truck is traveling at a high speed at the time of the collision, the occupants of the passenger vehicle can suffer severe injuries or fatalities.
  • Take breaks if fatigue sets in: Long hours driving in heavy traffic can be exhausting. Although truck drivers may feel pressure to keep driving despite feeling drowsy, this can be very dangerous. In fact, studies show that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Common signs of drowsy driving include yawning, excessive blinking, veering into another lane, and hitting rumble strips. If a truck driver starts to experience any of these symptoms, he or she should pull over to a safe spot and get some rest.

What Should Motorists Do to Avoid a Truck Accident?

Sharing the road with a massive truck can be very intimidating, particularly when driving on a busy highway. Unfortunately, when a truck accident happens, it is the occupants of the passenger vehicle who suffer the most devastating injuries and fatalities, even if the motorist was at fault for causing the accident. Therefore, it is extremely important that motorists take the necessary steps to avoid a catastrophic accident with an 80,000-pound commercial truck. The following are common safety tips that motorists are urged to follow when sharing the road with a large truck:

  • Stay out of trucks’ blind spots: Commercial trucks have very large blind spots. When driving near a truck, if the motorist cannot see the truck driver in his or her windows, the truck driver cannot see the car.
  • Never tailgate: This is always dangerous, but when following a truck, it can result in a serious rear-end accident. Trucks require significantly more road space to slow down or some to a complete stop. Drivers should leave plenty of space between the truck and their vehicle.
  • Do not cut in front of a truck: Cutting off a large truck can result in a serious accident if the truck is unable to slow down in time to prevent a collision.
  • Avoid distractions: One moment of distraction when traveling near a large truck can have devastating consequences. Motorists must always keep their attention focused on the road, particularly when driving in the vicinity of a large truck.

Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of Memorial Day Truck Accidents

If you or a loved one suffered a devastating injury in a truck accident over the Memorial Day holiday, it is in your best interest to contact the Baltimore truck accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton at your earliest convenience. We will conduct a thorough investigation into the details of the accident, determine whether the truck driver was negligent in any way, and assist you with every step of the claims process. Our dedicated legal team will secure the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries and will continue to fight for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.