Holidays Mean More Trucks On Area Roads

Commercial trucking is one of the top 10 deadliest industries in the United States. Although truck drivers face scores of hazards on the road every day, the holiday period is a particularly dangerous time to get behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer.

Northwest Louisiana sees its fair share of cold days during the month of December, and all it takes is one night of below-freezing temperatures to make the roads extra slick and dangerous to drive on. In addition to an increase in freight truck delivery vehicles on the roads, holiday travelers will be flooding the highways to visit distant loved ones. If you combine these hazards with an increase in drunk driving, then it’s easy to understand why designated drivers get nervous around the holidays.

Just like every other driver, commercial truckers have a duty to behave in a way that does not put other road users at risk. If a trucker breaches this duty of care, then he or she may be liable for any injuries that result. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an estimated 342,000 large trucks were involved in crashes in 2013. These crashes caused 95,000 serious injuries and 3,964 deaths.

If you will be driving over the holidays, you can reduce your risk of commercial truck & 18 wheeler accidents by following these five safety tips:

  • Be Patient: You may run into congested holiday traffic, and you might fall behind schedule due to adverse weather. Do not let your schedule cause you to drive recklessly, and plan your route with extra time to make it to your destination.
  • Avoid Distracted Driving: Texting, eating and drinking, gawking at billboards and adjusting climate controls can all contribute to accidents. According to the American Automobile Association, looking away from the road even for just two seconds can double your risk of crashing.
  • Check Your Blind Spots before Changing Lanes: With more drivers on the road, there is a higher risk that your vehicle will be in a trucker’s blind spot. According to the Large Truck Crash Causation Study, nearly 10 percent of large truck collisions are same-direction side-swipe accidents.
  • Take Breaks: If you notice the signs of fatigue, pull over to a safe place and rest for at least 20 minutes. Pack some items to help keep you awake if you will be driving at night or during times with little rest.
  • Do Not Speed: If the roads are slick, you will require a longer stopping distance. This increases the risk of causing a rear-end accident. You can avoid this by reducing your speed and extending your following distance.

Semi-Truck Blind Spots: Know The “No Zones”

Due to their massive size and weight, semi-trucks or 18-wheelers are without a doubt the “kings of the road”. These large trucks tower over other types of vehicles, and because truck drivers sit so high above other motorists, many people assume they have a bird’s eye view of the highway and everyone around them.

In reality, semi-truck operators have fairly limited visibility surrounding their vehicles. Because the tractor-trailers are so big, it’s simply impossible for a truck’s driver to see every area around their rig. 18-wheelers have four major blind spots, which are sometimes referred to as “no zones,” because it is unsafe to remain in these spots if you’re driving near a semi-truck. Knowing about these no zones can help you avoid them.

The Front “No Zone”
18-wheelers often move slowly when picking up speed, which can be frustrating to other motorists. If you’ve ever spent miles stuck behind a large truck, then you probably know how tempting it is to zip around whenever you get the chance. This action is very dangerous because semi-trucks have a front blind spot that can extend up to 20 feet in front of the truck’s cab. Semi-truck drivers cannot see vehicles in this front area which can be deadly if the semi must stop quickly during one of these maneuvers.

If the truck’s driver can’t see you, he or she might not be able to adjust or calculate adequate space between the truck’s grill and the bumper of the car ahead of you. Terrible injuries will be suffered when passenger vehicles are sandwiched between a semi and another vehicle, so don’t let it happen to you!

The Rear “No Zone”
Semi-trucks also have a large blind spot immediately behind the truck’s trailer. At up to 200 feet, the rear no zone is quite large. Motorists who follow trucks too closely do so at their own peril, as the truck’s driver may not even know there is a vehicle that close to the trailer.

If the truck tries to stop quickly, there becomes a risk of underride -which occurs when a car slides under the truck’s trailer usually sheering off the top of the car and causing catastrophic injuries or fatalities. This is a very serious situation and should be avoided at all costs!

The Right “No Zone”
The right no zone is the largest of all the semi-truck blind spots and can extend over three lanes of traffic. This blind spot roughly starts at the truck’s passenger side truck door and spreads outward to cover the lanes next to the truck’s trailer. This is why passing a semi on the right is extremely dangerous, since the truck’s driver is unlikely to know you’re there until it’s too late.

If you cannot see the truck driver’s reflection in his or her side mirror, then you are within the truck driver’s blind spot and they cannot see you. If you happen to stay in those blind spots,  you will be preventing the trucker’s ability to take evasive action to avoid a dangerous situation if necessary.

The Left “No Zone”
The left side blind spot is the smallest, but it is still dangerous. If you can’t see the truck operator’s side mirrors, he or she probably can’t see you, either. Louisiana is home to some of the most dangerous highways in the country. The Louisiana Highway Patrol is taking steps to lower the number of highway crashes by educating motorists about tractor-trailer no zones. Whether you’re a regular highway commuter, or just an occasional interstate driver, here are several ways to stay safer when you’re sharing the road with semis:

  • Always pass any vehicle on the left, but take extra care to always pass tractor-trailers on the left side only.
  • After you travel past a semi-truck, don’t move in front of it until you can see the entire semi in your own rearview mirror.
  • Don’t linger in a semi-truck’s blind spots.
  • If you are behind a semi-truck and you can’t see its side mirrors, you are probably following too closely.

If you or a loved one have been involved in a truck accident crash, call our Shreveport 18-wheeler accident lawyers today to schedule a free consultation concerning your important case.

Uninsured Motorist Protection

Louisiana motorists are generally required to maintain liability insurance on their vehicles. The main purpose of liability insurance is to pay damages on behalf of the insured party in the event that someone is injured by the negligent operation of a vehicle. Under state law, each vehicle must carry liability coverage of at least $15,000 per person injured or killed, and at least $30,000 per accident if two or more people are injured or killed.

Unfortunately, far too many people ignore these laws and drive without the necessary insurance to keep themselves and other motorists protected while driving. To address this problem, Louisiana law requires that every auto insurance policy issued in the state include uninsured motorist coverage, unless the customer specifically rejects the coverage in writing.

What is Uninsured Motorist Protection?

The uninsured coverage must be in amounts at least equal to the policy’s liability coverage, unless the customer opts in writing for lower coverage or chooses coverage for economic loss only, without coverage for pain and suffering.

The law defines an uninsured motorist to include a hit-and-run driver who cannot be identified. Under this circumstance, there must be physical contact between the vehicles unless the injured person can prove, through an independent witness, that the unidentified driver caused the accident. An uninsured motorist is also defined to include someone who is underinsured; that is, they have insurance, but not enough to cover all of the victim’s injuries.

In a serious injury claim arising out of an auto accident, uninsured coverage can play a key role in providing adequate compensation for the victim. It is a good idea for every driver in the state of Louisiana to make sure that they have uninsured coverage in their insurance policy, and if not, to get coverage as soon as possible.

Who Needs Uninsured Motorist Protection?

Louisiana has a mandatory uninsured motorist statute. By means of this, a person in Louisiana buying automobile insurance is also presumed to have bought uninsured or underinsured coverage. Louisiana law specifically requires that the individual purchasing the insurance policy reject such coverage if the mandatory uninsured motorist coverage is not going to be included. In fact, Louisiana has a form that the individual purchasing the policy will have to sign in order for the underinsured coverage to be officially rejected.

This can be important to note because there are occasional cases where we are able to show a judge or jury that the individual purchasing the policy never rejected such coverage before being involved in an auto accident. Courts will hold that they are entitled to underinsured coverage unless they have specifically signed off on the rejection form.

Why Is Uninsured Motorist Protection So Important?

It is estimated that the rate of uninsured motorists on Louisiana roads is approximately 13%. This number is slightly under the national average of 13.8% but still presents a major threat to uninsured and insured drivers alike. If a driver’s expenses are not covered by a form of insurance, they must be provided for by the driver typically out-of-pocket. Lower monthly premiums through rejection or underinsurance also comes with a severe, more costly risk.

When a person is injured by a negligent driver and the driver turns out to be uninsured, the injured person can make a claim against the uninsured coverage of their own policy. The uninsured coverage essentially takes place of the liability coverage that the negligent driver failed to carry.

The experienced auto accident attorneys at Gordon & Gordon understand the troublesome and confusing world of insurance navigation. If you or a loved one are suffering as a result of an auto accident, whether insured or uninsured, please contact us today at 318-716-HELP (4357) for a free and confidential consultation to protect your rights and limit potential liabilities.