Having helped seriously injured victims of tractor trailer accidents across Florida for nearly thirty years, personal injury lawyer Joseph Lipsky is well aware of the reckless behavior that many truck drivers demonstrate daily upon our roads, including the Florida Turnpike and I-95. However, we would be remiss if we did not remind our fellow drivers that they too must exercise caution when driving near a truck so as to help prevent deadly crashes.
Most car drivers don’t understand the limits tractor trailers have in being able to respond to the actions of another motorist. Professional drivers frequently encounter other drivers who are texting, talking on their phone rather than using a hands-free device, not allowing adequate distance when passing a tractor trailer or following too closely behind a truck. Tailgating is particularly dangerous, as truck drivers are not able to see a vehicle behind them unless it is far enough back to be visible in its sideview mirrors. Car drivers need to remember that tractor trailers have many blind spots.
Drivers need to remember that tractor trailers are not able to stop quickly, so when a car pulls out in front of a tractor trailer, which weighs nearly 80,000 pounds, they need to make sure there is enough room for the truck driver to stop if needed. When motorist fail to recognize the limitations truck drivers and their vehicles have, unfortunately deadly accident happen. In fact, recent studies demonstrated that nearly seventy percent of crashes in which a driver or passenger dies involve a collision between a car and a large truck.
These are some of the reasons why truck drivers experience a high number of work related injuries. In fact, while traffic injuries and fatalities have dropped for driver and passengers in cars and small trucks, the number of professional truck drivers who are injured or killed has increased annually over the past decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics who examined fatalities-per vehicle-mile-traveled.
While much of government’s responses address trucker and tractor trailers, including rules implementing the use of speed limiting governors on heavy trucks and requirements for more pre-employment training, which is on top of regulations which further limit the number of hours a truck may driver within any given 24 hour period, as monitored by electronic in-vehicle computer logging of hours and miles driven; recently additional regulations are being considered to help protect truck drivers from other motorists.
Such regulations include increased use of so-called speed cameras, which photograph license plates of vehicles traveling in excess of a posted speed limit, similar to red light cameras. While we agree that some of the nearly 2 million truck drivers on our roads daily need to drive more carefully, particularly while on some of the more crowded highways, including SR 826 and SR 836, so to do all drivers need to exercise common sense by putting their phones down, regardless of how congested the traffic is, and pay attention to the other vehicles on the road, whether another car or tractor trailer. Only by having all motorists pay attention while they are behind the wheel will we finally see a substantive drop in the number of avoidable deadly traffic accidents.