Are There More Trucks on the Road Near the End of the Year?

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One of biggest indications that the holiday season is underway is an increased presence of large trucks on our nation’s roads and highways. As people make more and more purchases in stores and online, billions of packages will be picked and packed up into these large vehicles. It is the busiest time of year for truck drivers, who will be logging in millions of miles as they transport goods to their delivery points. This means extra hours and plenty of added pressure for drivers and their employers to get things delivered on time.

On top of all that, we see more passenger vehicles on the road, with people doing their holiday shopping, going to and room parties, and visiting friends and family. These people are also under pressure to finish their errands and attend events, and in many cases they are distracted, stressed, and/or drinking and driving. The risks of more commercial and passenger vehicles sharing the roads in November and December of every year cannot be understated. There is an increased chance of a truck accident this time of year.

Do the Statistics Show Increased Truck Accidents?

It is estimated that there are 36 percent more vehicles on the roads in the holiday season, so it naturally follows that commercial trucks are likelier to end up in accidents at this time. Maryland’s I-70 is listed as one of the top 10 most dangerous roads for truck drivers based on total accident volume, and this is a highway that many area residents travel on during the holidays. Experts claim that 500,000 trucking accidents happen every year in the United States, with a person being seriously injured or killed in accidents caused by tractor trailers every 15 minutes.

Some of the more recent statistics posted by the U.S. Department of Transportation reveal that 4,119 people lost their lives in large truck accidents in 2019; while 16 percent of them were truck occupants, 67 percent were in passenger vehicles and the remaining 15 percent were motorcyclists, pedestrians, and bicyclists. Out of all those trucks, 3,034 of them involved tractor trailers. Most of these large truck accidents happened on major roads, followed by interstates and freeways, with minor roads coming in third. The largest percentage of these accidents occurred between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.

The majority of fatalities in large truck accidents are passenger vehicle occupants. The reason is obvious; trucks can weigh up to 30 times more than passenger cars, making the occupants of other vehicles much more vulnerable. Trucks are also higher off the ground, increasing the danger of smaller cars under riding them. Truck braking capability was shown to be another risk factor for accidents. Tractor trailers take longer to stop than smaller vehicles do; a loaded 18-wheeler can need up to 40 percent more ground to stop than a car does. Naturally, this distance increases when the brakes are not functioning properly or if the ground is wet and slippery.

Another reason for these accidents is truck driver fatigue. Federal laws permit them to drive up to 11 hours in a shift, although they are required to take breaks. During the holidays, many drivers disregard the regulations and spend longer times behind the wheel to meet their deadlines and earn more money. Trucking companies can also apply pressure to these drivers to work more hours than they should.

How Can I Avoid Truck Accidents during the Holidays?

Although 18-wheelers can seem intimidating and even frightening, the majority of truck drivers and trucking companies operate safely and work hard to get their jobs done on time without accidents. It is the holiday season after all, so giving them enough space and understanding that they are under a lot of pressure can go a long way as far as sharing the road goes. It is everyone’s duty to take reasonable precautions when driving throughout the year, and to be extra cautious during the holiday season. You cannot control what the truck driver in the next lane does, but you can make educated decisions about your own driving.  Here are some safety tips to get you moving in the right direction.

Avoid driving on the worst traffic days: The day before Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve are some of the heaviest traffic days of the year, so it is wise to stay off the roads on these days. As we get closer to Christmas, you can also expect highways to be packed with tractor trailers, delivering food, gifts, and other supplies to consumers, plus other drivers getting in their last-minute shopping. If you cannot stay off the roads on those days, avoid the busier times of day by leaving in the early morning hours.

Check the weather: November and December can bring cold rains, ice, and snow, making road surfaces slipper and dangerous. Listen to the weather and traffic reports before leaving the house and adjust your timing accordingly or look for different routes.

Pay attention at all times: Large trucks often swerve into other lanes without warning, and this can be due to driver fatigue, distraction, drunk driving, or windy conditions. Also watch out for tire blowouts, as the rubber debris can cause serious damage to you and your vehicle.

Large trucks also shed large debris sometimes, which can also slam into your windshield. Cutting trucks off is also very dangerous, and driving too close on the sides is also ill advised; large trucks have correspondingly large blind spots, and they might not be aware of your vehicle until it is too late. Pass if you must, but make sure the truck driver sees you and do it quickly.

More Tips for Safe Holiday Driving around Trucks

Being courteous to truckers also gives you points for driver safety, and all these suggestions are for year-round use:

Keep your distance: When driving around tractor trailers, keep your distance because they need much more room to come to a stop. Tailgating is never recommended and is much more hazardous with a large truck in front of you. A rear-end collision can cause smaller vehicles to receive impact at their windshields instead of their front bumpers. Besides that, since you cannot see far in front of you, the truck driver may hit their brakes and you may not have enough time to follow suit.

Allow turning space: Since trucks are so large and long, they need more room to make their turns. Watch for their turn signals, and never pass a truck that is attempting a turn. Also give them extra room at intersections; stop your vehicle before the stop lines.

Be especially careful driving on steep roads: As described, large trucks need more stopping distance, but on steep, and especially slippery, roads it is even more complicated. The downward momentum can make it harder for them to stop, so be sure to stay far away. These drivers may flash their lights several times to alert you of a hazard; when safe, pull over and out of their way.

Other than those guidelines, practice defensive driving always and keep your seat belt secured. Before leaving your house for holiday trips, plan out your route in advance, allow yourself more traveling time, and follow the posted speed limits. If you have younger drivers in your home, discuss these safety concerns with them. New drivers who have never driven during a holiday season may not know how to share the road safely with 18-wheelers. With so many more large trucks and passenger vehicles on the roads at this time of year, taking these preventative safety measures can save lives, including your own.

Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Provide Accident Victims with Skilled Legal Guidance

It is a known fact that there are more trucks on the roads during the holiday season, increasing your chances for a serious accident. If you or someone you care for was involved in a trucking accident, reach out to the experienced Baltimore truck accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We understand your concerns and will fight to get you the compensation for which you are entitled. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreColumbiaGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.