As a driver, one of the most terrifying events that may occur is when another vehicle begins to encroach on your lane. Such an experience is all the more terrifying if that other vehicle happens to be a forty-ton 18-wheeler. Unfortunately this dangerous turn of events plays out countless times every year on America’s roads and highways.
WHY THIS SCENARIO IS COMMON
Part of the reason this deadly situation arises is because there are so many commercial trucks on the road. A recent study from the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics revealed that our nation now has more truckers than it does active duty men and women in the armed forces. Last year alone a staggering 69.1% of all domestic freight, or about 9.4 billion tons, was hauled by truck. That means there are many opportunities for frightening accidents to occur.
Another reason behind many 18-wheeler accidents has to do with the truckers and trucking industry. Despite regulations designed to ensure that only qualified, well-rested, and clear-headed truckers are on the road, there are still all too common instances of negligent hiring practices, sleepy truckers getting on the road, or truckers who drive while abusing drugs or alcohol. All of these problems can contribute to trucker error.
However, the most likely culprit for this particular type of accident has to do with 18-wheeler blind spots. Simply put, there’s a good chance that when a trucker begins to come into your lane it’s because your car was essentially invisible and the trucker forgot or never realized you were there.
PRACTICE DEFENSIVE DRIVING
Obviously the best type of accident is one that never happens in the first place. The good news is that there are many things drivers can do to minimize their exposure to being run off the road by an 18-wheeler. For example:
- Give the 18-wheeler plenty of space.
- Never ride in an 18-wheeler’s blind spot.
- Pass 18-wheelers quickly, but safely.
- Never pass on an 18-wheeler’s right-hand side.
- Slow down in bad weather.
- Always use your turn signal.
- Never cut off an 18-wheeler.
- Pay attention for any signs that an 18-wheeler may be about to change lanes.
ASSESS THE SITUATION
The reality, however, is that sometimes, despite your best efforts, an accident does occur and you may find yourself run off the road by an 18-wheeler. When this happens it is important to stay calm and assess the situation. Your first priority should be to determine whether or not you or any of your passengers have been injured. If necessary, call 911 and begin first aid.
It is also extremely important to determine whether or not you are in any continued danger. Is there a risk of fire or collision from another vehicle? Is your vehicle perched precariously on the edge of a steep embankment or bridge?
Next, determine the level of damage to your vehicle. In the best-case scenario you were only run off the road, but did not actually collide with the 18-wheeler or any other objects. In this instance, it is possible that, though you will likely be shaken up, you, your passengers, and the vehicle may be fine. Of course, it is also possible that you suffered major or minor damage due to being struck by the 18-wheeler or colliding with a sign, tree, guardrail, or other objects as a result of being forced off the road. If this is the case then it is important to report the accident immediately to the police.
REPORT THE TRUCKER
If you are in a position to do so it is also key to report the trucker. Even if you, your passengers, and vehicle are fine the trucker’s dangerous behavior needs to be reported before anyone else gets hurt. In a past article, we discussed how to report an unsafe truck driver. The key information to gather is:
- The US DOT number – This is required by law to be displayed on the side of the truck
- The company name – If you can’t catch the entire name you may be able to look it up with partial information.
- The roadway Information – Highway or road name, mile marker or intersection, etc.
- The date and time
- The truck’s license plate number
- Other distinguishing information about the truck
PROTECT YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS
If you or other parties involved in the accident did suffer personal or property damage as a result of being run off the road by an 18-wheeler it is imperative that you protect your legal rights. Contact a qualified attorney experienced in trucking litigation and schedule a consultation. If possible, also determine whether or not there were any eyewitnesses to the accident and obtain their contact information. Eyewitness testimony can have a very big impact if your case goes to trial. The Law Firm of Dugas Law Firm is experienced in trucking litigation and we can help you receive the justice and compensation you deserve.