Sharing the road with commercial vehicles is common, especially if you’re driving down a busy highway. Semi–trucks play a crucial role in ensuring that products get to their destination on time and intact, so it’s only natural to see them on our roads as well. While commercial trucks undoubtedly play a key role in our country’s economy, driving alongside them can be an intimidating experience. Semi-trucks are far larger than the average personal vehicle, and their size can make it more challenging to view the entire road.
In this article, we discuss some of the warning signs that may indicate that a truck driver is losing control of their vehicle. If you see a truck driver operating their vehicle dangerously or erratically, maintain a safe distance from the truck and call the relevant authorities as soon as it is possible to do so.
Excessive speed can cause any driver to lose control of their vehicle, but driving too fast is particularly dangerous for commercial vehicles. Semi-trucks are far heavier than passenger vehicles, weighing up to 35,000 pounds without cargo and weighing up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded to the legal weight limit. The sheer weight of a commercial truck means that it is impossible for the vehicle to come to a stop over a short distance. If a speeding truck driver encounters a sudden traffic back-up on the road, they may be unable to stop their vehicle from crashing into the back of stopped or slow-moving cars.
Additionally, trucks have a much higher center of gravity than sedans or even vans. When a truck takes a turn at a high rate of speed, the vehicle may roll over. Dangerous speeding is a factor in many collisions. If it’s proven that dangerous driving caused a crash, it may be possible to pursue a truck accident lawsuit in Houston to secure compensation for resulting injuries or damages.
Excessive Lane Drifting
When a driver is behind the wheel, they’re obligated to stay in their lane unless they are passing another vehicle, changing lanes legally, or avoiding a hazard in the current lane of travel. Drifting between two lanes significantly increases the chances of a serious crash. If you notice a large truck straddling the line between two lanes or drifting onto the rumble strips on the side of the road, this can potentially signify a dangerous situation.
The truck’s driver could be distracted, dozing off, under the influence, or dealing with an illness. Regardless of the reason for a truck’s drifting, keep as much distance between their vehicle and your own as possible. If the truck veers into your lane, you may not have enough time or space to avoid a catastrophic crash.
Similarly to lane drifting, sudden swerving between lanes is a warning sign of erratic and potentially dangerous driving. In almost all circumstances, swerving is not necessary and it puts other drivers on the road at risk. Swerving is commonly caused by:
- Eating or drinking while driving
- Drunk driving
- Texting or using a phone while driving
- Adjusting the stereo or reaching across the car for an item
When a vehicle is swerving between the boundaries of its lane, it is highly likely that the truck will eventually cross over into an adjacent lane as well. Unless there is an obstacle in the road that a truck driver is trying to avoid, this may be a sign that they have lost control of their vehicle. Since trucks are much larger and heavier than other vehicles, even a slight loss of control can lead to a catastrophic “jackknife” accident.
Tailgating or Aggressive Driving
Tailgating occurs when someone follows the car in front of them too closely. This type of driving can put lives at risk, since the pursuing car may be unable to stop or maneuver around the vehicle they’re following in an emergency. Tailgating can be done intentionally or by accident, if a driver doesn’t realize how little space they’re leaving between their vehicle and the car in front of them.
When a large truck tailgates a smaller vehicle, this can quickly result in an incredibly dangerous situation. A large truck usually weighs tens of thousands of pounds more than a passenger car or pickup truck, which makes it difficult to bring the larger vehicle to a quick stop. If the vehicle in front of the tailgating semi-truck comes to a quick stop, the truck will likely crash right into the back of the other car. Tailgating can also result in a smaller car falling into a truck’s blind spot, where the driver is unable to even see the vehicle they’re following. If you notice a truck tailgating other vehicles, do not pass or get in front of that truck.
Stay Aware of Distracted or Dangerous Drivers
Every time you get behind the wheel, it’s important to keep an eye out for other drivers that may potentially be a threat to you and your passengers. Stay aware of vehicles that are maneuvering erratically and do your best to maintain a safe distance from them at all times. We hope these suggestions help you stay safe the next time you hit the road!