Preventing Florida Truck Accidents
While we can never prevent all truck crashes, many deaths and serious injuries can be avoided if truck drivers and drivers of other motor vehicles all do their part. Here are some things that truck drivers can do to keep themselves safe and to protect the rest of us on the road:
Be Wary of the Weather
- Rain, fog, snow, ice, smoke and wind are hazards that reduce visibility and traction, increase stopping distance and congestion, and can throw drivers off balance. Slow down to avoid rollovers, jackknifing and possible collisions with other vehicles.
- Keep adequate space between your truck and the vehicle in front in case you have to stop. The recommended “following distance” for a large truck or tractor trailer is 9 or more seconds in inclement weather.
- In heavy rain, watch for pooling of water on the road to avoid hydroplaning (when tires ride above the road surface on a thin layer of water). Slow down – vehicles can hydroplane moving as slow as 30 miles an hour.
- Pull off the road if conditions become severe. While normally it is unwise to park on a road with speed limits of more than 30 mph, if you must pull over on a highway, use flares, flashers and safety triangles to warn other motorists.
- Check the weather before you leave, and if bad weather is anticipated, keep the gas tank full and carry emergency equipment and tire chains in case of snow or ice.
Plan Carefully for Long Haul Driving
- Get plenty of rest before going on duty and comply fully with federal hours-of-service rules regarding driving limits and breaks. Wear comfortable clothing, take exercise breaks, and eat healthy foods that will keep you alert.
- Identify and use parking set aside for trucks, since you will likely need four times the space of an average passenger car. Don’t park near driveways or on side streets where your tractor trailer might obstruct another driver’s view.
- Don’t let the truck idle for more than a few minutes, and do not leave it unattended. If idling is necessary because of extremely cold weather, keep windows closed or wear a safety mask so that you don’t inhale dangerous fumes.
- Inspect your truck before you leave to identify any problems and get them fixed before you head out. Pay special attention to headlights, brake lights, and turn signals.
- Admit when you are drowsy or fatigued and take a break. If this is a chronic condition, check with your doctor about causes, which could include allergies or sleep apnea.
Consider Others on the Road
- Don’t tailgate; keep your distance no matter how frustrating long hours and other drivers become. Be aware that other motorists may not know about your “no zone” or the size of other blind spots. Adjust your mirrors and stay alert for vehicles trying to make an end run!
- Prevent backing-up accidents by making sure that you have a clear view, checking for obstructions, and, if you must turn, positioning your truck so that the turn can be made on your side. Check both mirrors, but don’t rely on mirrors alone. If you see anything in your blind spot, stop immediately and don’t start up again until the object or person reappears.
- Change lanes only when necessary, checking your mirrors every few seconds to make sure other vehicles are not trapped in your blind spots. Be sure to signal early when approaching a turn at an intersection so that other motorists will know what you are doing.
- Be a defensive driver who maintains a safe speed at all times and avoids not only aggressive driving yourself, but others on the road who are exhibiting aggressive driving behaviors.
Searcy Law encourages all drivers on the road: Safety first!