What Are the Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Alabama?
In 2015, 8,484 traffic accidents in Alabama involved large trucks. These accidents caused 118 deaths and 2,367 personal injuries. Truck accidents almost always cause worse injuries to passenger vehicle occupants than to those in commercial trucks. Below is a list of the most common factors involved in truck accidents, based on real crash data.
Improper Lane Change
The number one cause of crashes involving heavy trucks in Alabama is “improper lane change or use.” Improper lane changes caused 1,055 truck accidents (12.4%) in Alabama in 2015. Trucks or passenger vehicles changing lanes without checking for other vehicles or signaling their intent to merge can cause preventable collisions. Being more aware of your surroundings, always using your turn signals, passing and merging slowly, and avoiding a truck’s No Zone can help you avoid lane-change accidents.
Large trucks have major blind spots known as No Zones. These zones exist on all four sides of a commercial 18-wheeler, due to the large size and length of the truck and trailer. The No Zone extends 20 feet away from the front of the truck, two lanes from its right, 30 feet from its rear, and one lane from its left. The truck driver cannot see vehicles that are in its No Zones.
Other drivers should avoid No Zones as much as possible and pass through them quickly if they must. Hovering in a No Zone could lead to a roadway disaster. Always signal your intent to merge and do so carefully according to the traffic surrounding your vehicle.
Failure to Yield the Right-of-Way
The second-most common cause of crashes with truck involvement in Alabama is failure to yield right-of-way. Right-of-way refers to the right one party has to proceed in a situation such as an intersection, four-way stop, or highway entrance. If a large truck ignores the right-of-way of a passenger vehicle, it could collide with oncoming cars, bicyclists, or pedestrians. All truck drivers must obey traffic signals and yield to other vehicles when applicable. The same is true for passenger vehicle drivers.
Large trucks do not possess the stopping power of smaller, lighter vehicles. When smaller vehicles fail to yield right-of-way and cut off large trucks, therefore, truckers may not be able to stop in time to prevent a collision. Never assume a truck can stop in time to avoid striking your vehicle. If the commercial truck has the right-of-way, come to a complete stop and yield. Otherwise, you could put yourself and others on the road in danger.
Unseen Drivers and Pedestrians
The third-most common cause is “unseen object, person, or vehicle.” This cause accounted for 734 accidents in Alabama in 2015. Truck drivers might not see other vehicles or pedestrians if they are driving distracted, drowsy, or drunk. Negligent and reckless truck drivers might fail to see merging or crossing vehicles, resulting in collisions. Drowsy driving is a major problem for truck drivers due to long and unusual hours on the road. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA), 28% of commercial truck drivers have sleep apnea.
Paying attention to the road is integral for truck and passenger vehicle drivers. Keeping your eyes on the road, hands on the wheel, and mind on the driving task is the best way to make sure you always see passing or oncoming roadway users. Make yourself as visible to truckers as possible by staying out of No Zones, using your lights to signal your intent, and being predictable by following roadway rules.
If you believe a negligent truck driver caused your truck accident, explore your legal rights with a Birmingham truck accident attorney. The trucking company could be liable for your damages.