Jeffrey E. Johnston

Sharing the road with big trucks can be risky

Georgia drivers share space on roadways with thousands of commercial vehicles every day. While some of these big trucks are piloted by drivers with many years of safe driving experience, others may have someone with just a few weeks of experience behind the wheel. While it's impossible to know the driving record of nearby truckers, motorists can dramatically improve their odds of being in a crash by understanding the hazards and following a few safe driving habits when adjacent to transport trucks hauling freight.

A fully loaded tractor trailer can legally weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. Bringing a 40-ton load to a safe stop requires a distance equivalent to two football fields on dry pavement. If road conditions are tricky and tires are worn, it can take much longer. Because of the long stopping distance, truckers typically try to leave a substantial cushion between themselves and traffic they are following. When motorists merge into this safety cushion, they put themselves and their passengers at grave risk if an emergency braking event takes place.

There are limits to the amount of hours a truck driver can be behind the wheel, but even when working within those limits, there is risk of highway fatigue. If a driver's reflexes are dulled, he or she can put every nearby vehicle in danger. The best practice for regular motorists is to limit their time immediately adjacent to, in front of or behind a big truck. Whenever these two categories of vehicles collide, occupants of the smaller vehicles are at much greater risk.

When a trucking accident occurs, there is substantial risk for serious injury and property damage. Hiring a qualified personal injury lawyer might help victims pinpoint the exact cause of a crash and ascertain whether factors such as training and fatigue are contributing factors. The guidance and counsel of an experienced advocate may help ensure that accident victims get compensation for their damages.

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Jeffrey E. Johnston

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