Large commercial trucks pose unique safety risks on South Dakota roads. Each year, hundreds of accidents involve trucks, causing significant property damage, injuries, and fatalities. By understanding the primary causes of these crashes, drivers can help prevent such incidents and stay safe around big rigs.
Long haul truckers face intense pressure to meet tight delivery schedules, often spending prolonged periods behind the wheel without proper rest. However, fatigue severely impacts concentration, reaction time, and decision making. Drowsy driving plays a role in many accidents, especially those occurring late at night or early morning. Getting sufficient sleep is crucial for truckers to operate safely.
Whether using a cell phone, eating, or engaging with onboard electronics, any non-driving activity hinders a truck driver's focus. Distractions delay recognizing hazards and prolong braking/maneuvering times. Accident risks spike when performing secondary tasks versus concentrating fully on the road. Truckers must avoid distractions to see and react to situations appropriately.
Improper Lane Changes
With large blind spots, failed turn signals, or unsafe gaps misjudged, truck lane changes can endanger other vehicles. Not seeing a car positioned in a truck's "No Zone" often results in sideswipes or rear-end collisions during lane changes. Other drivers need patience around trucks maneuvering between lanes.
Fully loaded 18-wheelers require greater braking distances compared to cars. Excess speed or sudden braking can mean loss of control, especially for inexperienced drivers or when roads are wet/icy. Too fast for conditions is a leading cause of jackknifed or run-off-road truck wrecks. Speed limits must be strictly followed.
Following Too Closely
Heavy trucks need larger cushions of space to stop safely. However, tailgating cars cut dramatically into that buffer. If a lead vehicle brakes unexpectedly, the tailgating driver has little time or room to react without crashing. Trucks and all motorists need adequate following distances.
Awareness and defensive driving are key for truck and passenger vehicle operators alike to avoid crashes stemming from these preventable factors. Everyone must follow traffic laws and drive carefully in work zones or around large trucks.