Plus, simple reminders on how to share the road safely with tractor-trailers and other large vehicles.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has collected crash data since the early 1970s. These annual reports assess safety trends; key safety priorities like impaired driving and speeding; and estimate the annual number of fatalities and people injured in motor vehicle-related crashes.
According to the most recent reports, early estimates for 2021 point to a disturbing increase in overall fatalities (up 10.5%) as well as increases in major subcategories including accidents involving large trucks (up 13%).
This is the highest number of fatalities reported since 2005 and the largest annual percentage increase in the history of NHTSA’s reporting system.
Supply chain issues and online shopping have put more delivery trucks and tractor-trailers on our roads. There have even been more reports of large trucks and tractor-trailers on throughways.
Large trucks move roughly 70% of American freight. So, while it can be frustrating having to share the road with delivery trucks, tractor-trailers, and 18-wheelers, these large vehicles play an essential role in delivering the everyday items on which we depend.
Here are a few simple tips to help navigate safely around large trucks on the road:
Give Large Vehicles More Space
Larger vehicles have more blind spots than smaller ones, so tailgating or driving in a large vehicle’s blind spot can present significantly more danger. Should a large vehicle make a sudden stop or change lanes unexpectedly, a little extra space can help prevent an accident.
Respect Right Turns
Sometimes larger vehicles need to swing wide to the left in order to safely negotiate a right turn. These drivers can’t see directly behind or beside them, so cutting between a big truck and the curb, for example, increases the possibility of a crash. Pay attention to their signals and give these large trucks plenty of room to maneuver. Remember, if you can’t see the driver’s face reflected in the mirrors on a large vehicle, the driver can’t see you.
Pass On the Left
Passing should, as much as possible, be executed to the left of slower-moving traffic. Passing consistently on the left makes the road safer for everyone, as faster drivers have a quick and easy way to get around slower-moving vehicles like buses, construction vehicles, and trailers. Since most drivers expect traffic to pass on the left, this allows larger vehicles to maneuver more carefully and without sudden surprises.
Avoid Cutting Off a Truck
If you need to pass a large truck, don’t cut it off, especially in heavy traffic. If you cut off a truck, the driver may find it hard to stop and may plow into the rear portion of your vehicle in what’s termed an "override”. Because of its heavy weight, it can be very difficult for a truck to slow down or quickly come to a stop. A truck can take up to three football fields to stop traveling at 60 mph.
Be aware of more large trucks on our roads and show these vehicles a bit of extra patience—it’s good for them and it’s the best way to help keep you and your family safe.