We’ve all heard the expression ‘without trucks Australia stops’. Yet despite playing a crucial role in Australia’s economy, truck driving is one of the country’s most dangerous professions.
The figures paint a disturbing picture. Truck driving has an average rate of 20 deaths per 100,000 workers. In 2014, there were 65 deaths and 8450 injuries in the profession that year alone. And in the 12 months leading up to September 2017, 216 people died from 197 accidents involving trucks or buses.
Truckies themselves might be an easy target for these accidents, but blaming them isn’t entirely accurate. Nine out of ten fatal accidents involving heavy vehicles are actually caused by the other road user.
It’s clear that if we want to make the road a safer place, more awareness and education is needed when sharing the road with larger vehicles.
Sharing the road safely
Luckily, there are several simple ways drivers can decrease their risk of getting in an accident with a truck or heavy vehicle:
1 - Be aware of blind spots
You’ve probably seen the safety sign on some trucks: ‘If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you’. Trucks and other heavy vehicles have more blind spots than cars, including ones directly in front of the truck, directly behind the truck, next to the truck driver’s door and on the passenger side (extending for three lanes).
2 - Keep your distance
Tailgating is always a bad idea. But especially because trucks have a large blind spot right behind them and if you’re too close, they probably won’t see you. Try to position your vehicle so that they can see you in their side mirrors, and make sure you leave at least a three-second gap between your car and the truck in front of you.
When following a truck at night, keep your headlights on low beam to avoid reflecting bright light into the driver’s eyes via the truck’s side mirrors.
3 - Overtake safely
Firstly, make sure the road ahead is clear. Overtaking a truck takes several seconds longer than overtaking a car.
Don’t wait until you’re too close to overtake otherwise the truck driver may not see you. Be aware that air turbulence might affect your vehicle as you pass the truck, especially if you’re riding a motorcycle or driving a small car.
Keep your speed up so the truck driver doesn’t have to brake suddenly, and don’t return to your lane until the entire truck is visible in your rear view mirror.
4 - Be aware of a turning truck's movements
If the truck has a 'do not overtake turning vehicle' sign, the driver is allowed to take up more than one lane in order to turn a corner. In fact, they may even have to. Give them extra room and avoid overtaking as they turn so that an accident doesn’t happen.
Shine Lawyers: Truck Accident Claims
The unfortunate reality is that regardless of how safe our roads are, accidents can happen to anyone at anytime. When they do, we're here to help.
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: December 14, 2017.