If your workers use vehicles for business purposes, the risk of a commercial vehicle accident is real. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 4,311 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes in 2015, representing an increase of 8 percent compared to the previous year. The same year, 415,000 crashes involving large trucks were reported to the police. Commercial vehicle accidents can result in significant loss, and accident prevention is in everyone’s best interest.
Here are some of the most common crash types, as well as how to prevent them.
- Weather-related accidents: When the roads are slick with rain, ice or snow, even an experienced driver can be involved in a collision. The weather forecast should be monitored, and routes should be adjusted or delayed when needed. Additionally, commercial vehicles should have important winter weather equipment, such as tire chains and salt or sand.
- Accidents involving blind spots: When drivers cannot see their surroundings, there is an increased risk of a collision involving other vehicles, pedestrians or bicyclists. Drivers must be trained to avoid such accidents. Additionally, certain technologies, such as backup camera systems, can improve safety.
- Accidents caused by tire blowouts: When a tire blows, the driver may lose control. Tires should be properly inflated and maintained to reduce the risk of a tire blowout. Additionally, drivers should be trained on how to handle a tire blowout – without turning or stopping abruptly.
- Jackknives and rollovers: A truck is said to have jackknifed when the trailer collides with the front tractor. This is more likely to happen when the truck is braking on a slick surface, a decline or a curve. Jackknifing can be avoided by braking properly, maintaining the vehicle and using modern anti-lock brake systems. A rollover accident is more likely to occur when speeding on a turn or curve. Drivers must slow down and account for the weight of the vehicle. Refer to the FMCSA rollover prevention and CMV driving tips for more details.
- Head-on and T-bone accidents: If a large truck hits another vehicle, the truck’s size will result in significant damage. Even with smaller commercial vehicles, the damage can be severe. This may happen when a driver is speeding, not paying attention or running a red light, so these dangerous driving habits should be avoided.
- Rear-end and underride accidents: Instead of the commercial vehicle hitting another car, the other car might hit it. When a large truck is involved, this can cause the other vehicle to become lodged under the trailer, in what’s known as an underride collision. Commercial drivers should avoid stopping short and should be careful when changing lanes. The installation of side guards, in addition to the mandated rear guards, can save lives.
- Accidents caused by lost loads: If a truck’s load comes loose, it can hit the vehicles behind it and cause an accident. Loads must be secured. Even if a truck’s unsecured load doesn’t cause an accident, it could result in a fine.
- Accidents caused by distracted drivers: Texting while driving and other forms of distracted driving contributed to 3,477 deaths in 2015, according to the NHTSA. Most states now have laws against texting while driving, and there are additional restrictions for commercial motor vehicle drivers. Make sure your drivers are focusing on the road, not on their smartphones.
- Accidents caused by drowsy drivers: Sleep deprivation is another serious safety issue. The FMCSA states that 13 percent of commercial motor vehicle drivers were fatigued when they crashed. The FMCSA offers several tips to prevent drowsy driving, which include getting enough sleep, avoiding medicine that induces drowsiness and taking naps.