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The potential for large truck-car crashes and how to avoid them

It is not unusual for a motorist to feel nervous when driving next to a big rig that is barreling down the highway.

The potential exists for a devastating truck-car crash, which could happen in seconds, but alert drivers can take steps to avoid a collision.

A little background

In 2018, there were 4,136 fatalities resulting from large truck crashes. Of these, 16% were occupants of the trucks while 67% were occupants of passenger vehicles. The remaining 15% were motorcycle or bicycle riders or pedestrians. Braking issues play a role in many truck crashes. Compared to a car, a loaded big rig requires a distance 20 to 40 times longer to stop and the brakes on some trucks are not well maintained. Driver fatigue is another top cause of a truck crash.

Advanced safety technology

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a study that focused on safety features for large trucks. The 2017 study examined the benefits of adding four specific safety innovations to trucks: air disc brakes, automatic emergency braking systems, warning systems to alert the driver when a truck begins to drift out of its lane and onboard safety monitoring systems. Researchers estimated that the latter alone has the potential to prevent up to 63,000 crashes and nearly 300 fatalities.

Safety tips for motorists

The study also provides recommendations to help motorists avoid a potentially catastrophic collision with a large truck. First, stay out of the truck’s blind spot and follow the vehicle at a safe distance. Also, leave ample room when coming to a stop behind a truck on a hill since the larger vehicle may roll back when the driver takes his or her foot off the brake. All are valuable tips to keep in mind when sharing the road with a big rig.

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