When learning to drive most drivers hear the term “defensive driving.” This is a common phrase used to describe the act of safe and careful driving with the goal of avoiding hazards on the roadway.
A key principle of defensive driving is to be able to perceive and react to driving situations in order to prevent collisions. But what about commercial truck drivers? Do they share the responsibility of defensive driving? The answer is an unqualified yes — perhaps to an even greater extent based on the large size of their vehicles.
The primary goal of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is to promote safety in the trucking industry. The FMCSA specifically emphasizes maintaining clear distances, driving at a reasonable speed based on the conditions and maintaining proper lookout on public roadways.
Often, crashes with tractor trailers are preventable. They occur as a result of negligent driving actions on the part of the truck driver. For instance, truck drivers commonly cause sideswiping collisions when passing or merging lanes. These types of collisions are caused by the driver’s failure to drive defensively. For instance, a truck driver may fail to manage the space around their vehicle or fail to utilize their mirrors to check blind spots before changing lanes.
A defensive driver must be aware of his/her surroundings in order to adjust speed or position to avoid potential hazards. It is also important for truck drivers to yield right-of-way, especially when changing lanes or passing. Without defensive driving, truckers force other drivers to brake or steer which causes preventable collisions.
Defensive driving also requires truck drivers to keep their eyes on the road and to perceive and react to emergency situations around their vehicles. Truckers should be trained in evasive driving maneuvers before getting behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle. In fact, 49 C.F.R. § 383.111 and 383.113 require commercial motor vehicle operators to have the specific knowledge and skills of performing visual searches, adjusting speed and other important defensive driving skills/techniques. All too often, an inattentive truck driver fails to recognize an emergency situation unfolding before them and causes a catastrophic preventable collision as a result.
Truck drivers have a heightened responsibility for defensive driving because of the dangers they pose on the roadway. Getting into a crash with a big rig tractor trailer can cause more significant, or even fatal, injuries to a passenger vehicle operator.
If you, or someone you know, have been injured by a truck driver who failed to drive defensively in Pennsylvania, West Virginia or Ohio, call us at Bordas & Bordas, PLLC, for a free consultation and to find out exactly what potential violations the commercial driver committed. We will listen to your story, answer your questions and offer guidance on the next steps in holding the responsible parties accountable. An investigation of the circumstances could uncover that the truck driver, or the trucking company, is liable for your damages.