Big Trucks and Injuries on Our Highways

My years of practicing personal injury law have taught me some things about big trucks. One is that most drivers are afraid to be close to them. It's always good to be cautious, but if one is driving near a big rig driven by a highly trained professional driver, he's probably safer than when near SUV's and pick-ups driven by average drivers. Rarely will the good drivers exceed a speed limit. To the contrary, they'll slow down at the first sign of risk like a drizzle or road construction.

Safety mechanisms that everyone can apply to their driving habits can be learned by watching them. They keep their lights on during the day to make themselves more visible to other drivers. They drive far ahead of their rigs. By that, I mean they aren't just watching one or two cars ahead. They're looking down the road a tenth to a quarter of a mile to anticipate hazards developing, a car pulling out, a vehicle stopped on the side of the road, debris that might have to be avoided, or merging traffic.

On a divided highway, you'll see them driving in the right hand lane unless passing. And they will signal a lane change and move to the left to give merging traffic an opportunity to safely enter the highway and to give ample space to vehicles on the shoulder. The good drivers stop at rest areas to nap or to stretch. They check windshield wiper blades at frequent intervals, and they always have windshield washer solution in the reservoir to keep clean windshields for safe visibility. These are principles that all of us can apply to improve our driving safety and thereby avoid accidental injuries.

There are of course bad eighteen wheeler drivers just like there are bad drivers in every other kind of transportation. Some companies hire poorly trained drivers or drivers with terrible safety records. They keep hurting people. I sue those when they injure my clients, but I applaud and learn from the good truckers every time I drive. We must recognize the difference between them.

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