Back in 2016, we posted about how wrecks involving tractor trailers were on the rise. Unfortunately, that trend has continued, in part after a number of changes to the regulations surrounding tractor trailer operations.
With sleep-deprived drivers on the road for longer hours and towing heavier loads, the possibility of a potentially serious semi wreck has risen year-over-year since 2014 (according to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) and shows no sign of decreasing significantly any time soon.
What time is a semi truck wreck most likely to happen? You might be surprised by the answer.
When is a Wreck Involving a Tractor Trailer Most Likely to Happen?
Individuals and families traveling long distances by car often try to 'beat the traffic' by timing their drive to avoid morning or afternoon rush hour when they go through large towns or cities, and often they hope to cut down on the number of semi trucks they see on the road as well.
Tractor trailers are on the road 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. You can't fully avoid them no matter what.
However, knowing when wrecks are most likely to occur does provide some important feedback about the causes of certain semi wrecks and ways to mitigate the chance of being involved in one.
Wrecks involving tractor trailers are most likely to occur on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday between 12 to 3 pm.
The fact that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that 78% of semi truck wrecks happen on weekdays, with 73% occurring between the average work hours of 8 AM to 6 PM is often surprising to those who assume most wrecks happen when drivers are tired after a long drive through the night, or on weekends when more vehicles are on the road.
Noon is considered the average time to go on lunch for a majority of the American workforce, meaning that thousands of cars might pull onto the road all at once in a single American city within ten to fifteen minutes of each other. Sleep-deprived truck drivers may find it hardest to stay awake in the afternoon, after forcing themselves to power through the morning.
Add these facts together, and you have a recipe for a high risk of wrecks involving semi trucks.
What Can You Do to Lessen Your Chances of Being Involved in a Semi Wreck?
Obviously, it's impossible to ask everyone to simply stay off the road during any time of day, let alone the middle of the workday during the week.
Your best bet to lessen your chance of being involved in a tractor trailer wreck is to follow these safety guidelines:
- Stay out of the blind spot. We cannot emphasize this enough. There are multiple blind spots on the average semi truck, and if you are in one of those blind spots, the driver cannot see you. Make sure you have clear, unobstructed vision of the truck's mirrors at all times and leave plenty of space when driving directly behind one.
- Maintain a safe distance. It takes a semi truck nearly 40% longer to come to a complete stop than the average four-door vehicle. Make sure any semi both ahead or behind you had enough room to stop. Never cut a semi truck off when passing.
- Do not try to pass a semi truck that is in the process of turning. This is a surprisingly common occurrence, but any large truck or commercial vehicle must make wide turns. Attempting to pass a truck in the process of turning increases the possibility of a collision.
- Take note of a truck behaving oddly, and call emergency services if you become seriously concerned. One of the top causes of tractor trailer accidents is drivers falling asleep at the wheel. If you notice a semi truck swerving in and out of lanes or off the road or any other dangerously unusual pattern of behavior, call emergency services and let them know. Then put a safe distance between yourself and the semi truck as soon as you can.
- Be aware of adverse weather and road conditions. Another top cause of wrecks involving tractor trailers? Inclement weather. If roads are icy or wet, semi trucks need an even greater amount of distance to safely stop or make turns. You'll want to slow down, maintain awareness, and make sure you have at least four car lengths of distance between the semi ahead of or behind you if possible.
- Always wear your seatbelt. This should go without saying. If you are not wearing a seatbelt and are involved in a tractor trailer wreck, you may be thrown from the vehicle and have even more severe injuries.
Our final tip? Always drive on the defense. The simple truth is that you cannot predict anyone else's behavior 100%, and the best way to avoid an accident with a tractor trailer is simply to drive defensively.
Follow traffic and safety laws, maintain a heightened awareness of the environment around you, and adjust your driving if:
- road conditions are poor
- there is significant wind
- you see signs announcing road construction or improvement
- you become concerned after witnessing erratic behavior by others on the road.
Also, put down your cell phone. If the call or text message is so important it must be answered right away, pull over in the next safe location. Just don't drive distracted.
Looking for Legal Representation After Being Injured in a Semi Truck Wreck?
Bluestein Attorneys is here to help. Our Personal Injury team has experience helping our clients in the aftermath of automobile accidents, wrecks involving tractor trailers, motorcycle wrecks, and more.
Request your FREE Tractor Trailer Wrecks consultation by calling (803) 779-7599, or contact us online by clicking the banner below.