In a crash with an 18-wheeler, the occupants of a passenger car or pickup truck will usually suffer the most severe injuries.
Professional truck drivers are on the road for up to 11 hours at a stretch and are vulnerable to distractions that could result in catastrophic accidents.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) keeps a close eye on large trucks and their drivers and works toward ways to reduce crashes. Their research shows that driver inattention is a leading cause of truck-related accidents. A three-year study by the FMCSA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed that exterior distractions played a role in approximately 11,000 large truck crashes. External distractions could include anything from billboards to a field of flowers to a disabled vehicle at the side of the road.
Distractions inside the cab
One of the most dangerous distractions for any driver is texting while behind the wheel. For commercial drivers, this activity is illegal. A 2009 study found that texting increases the possibility of a crash by 23 times. It is also illegal for truck drivers to use a handheld phone while driving because, like texting, it takes the driver’s attention off the road ahead and at least one hand off the wheel. Another activity the FMCSA warns against is reading while driving. For example, the 2009 study found that reading a map increases the potential for a crash by seven times.
The danger for motorists
When driving in the vicinity of a big rig, a motorist is unable to tell whether the trucker is watching the road ahead or reading a text message. Keeping a respectful distance is wise in order to avoid the possibility of a truck-car crash that could cause devastating injuries, especially for those in the smaller vehicle.