In doing some research to uncover just what kinds of opportunities there are for a Colorado lawyer to represent truck accident victims, we met a grim reality. There just aren’t many passenger vehicle drivers who survive them. It seems prudent for us to provide some safety tips for those of you driving small vehicles in close proximity to commercial trucks.
According to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), the number of Colorado truck accidents that lead to fatalities equals about 10% of all fatal Colorado auto accidents annually. In 2008 (the most recent statistic available), 56 out of 548 Colorado accident fatalities were attributed to semi-truck accidents.
Nationwide, for 2008, the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports almost the same percentage of truck accident fatalities vs. auto accident fatalities. Of 41,500 total auto accident fatalities, 4,229 people were killed in truck accidents. Out of that number, 84% were in the smaller vehicle or were, otherwise, outside of the commercial truck.
It’s a staggering statistic, and shocking to know that only ten years earlier, in 1998, only 728 people were killed in truck accidents — in all of the U.S! That’s not the kind of statistical growth for which our nation aims.
It’s our tendency — we being the passenger vehicle drivers — to place all the blame for semi-truck accidents solely on our oversized counterparts. We fear them, and with good reason. But, instead of lashing out as an helpless underdog, there’s actually a lot we can do to keep the highways safe for drivers big and small.
The most important thing to do is recognize the limitations of the lumbering, 18-wheeled giants. Passenger vehicles have significantly better maneuverability than trucks, but that’s not a valid reason to take risks. You may think you know just how far you can push your small car “safely,” but one hasty move may cause a chain of events that leads a truck into an unavoidable accident with you, or somebody else. It takes a large truck 40% longer than a car to come to a complete stop. That’s not taking into account the weather, road conditions or weight of the load it’s carrying either. This is the greatest variable car drivers need to remember before taking risks with speed, failing to acknowledge a right-of-way, or making illegal lane changes.