Deaths from large truck collisions rose in 2012 for the third year in row. Accidents involving large trucks killed 3,921 people last year, a 3.7% increase from 2011, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The number of large-truck occupants who died in accidents jumped 8.9%.
The deaths occurred despite tough traffic laws aimed at preventing large-truck wrecks. In 2011, federal law banned handheld cellphone use by truckers. Commercial fleet managers increasingly have been using mobile technology to keep truckers from using handheld phones behind the wheel, speeding, and engaging in other hazardous driving behavior. Federal authorities have enacted rules to keep truckers from driving while they are fatigued.
The Virginia DMV recommends that passenger vehicle drivers take the following steps to safely share the road with buses, large commercial trucks, and tractor-trailers:
- Avoid large truck blind spots. Many commercial vehicles have large “no zones” where passenger cars and trucks disappear from the trucker’s sight.
- Give large trucks and buses ample room on the road. Large vehicles need lots of stopping distance.
- Do not pass large trucks on the right; the biggest blind spot is on a truck’s right side.
- Remember that large trucks make wide turns; watch commercial vehicles for turn signals, and do not interfere with a turning truck.
- Be aware that large trucks pick up a lot of momentum on downhill slopes. If driving ahead of a large truck on a downward grade, accelerate if possible to maintain a safe distance ahead of the truck.
- Do not cross behind a truck that is backing up. The trucker may not be able to see a passenger vehicle or pedestrian crossing at a right angle behind the vehicle.
The increase in large truck crash fatalities reflects an overall rise in crash fatalities for 2012.
In Virginia, 777 people died in accidents in 2012, up 1.7 percent from the previous year. The deaths included 85 fatalities in accidents that involved at least one large truck, an increase of about 12 percent from 2011. Overall, crashes killed 33,561 Americans died during the year, up 3.3 percent from 2011.