While I have never been a fan of sharing the highways with large trucks, recent experiences have left me terrified. Is it me or our roads becoming even more dangerous? My most recent experience was driving to Columbus on Interstate 70 to attend a 4-year-old’s birthday party. It was a rainy, foggy, gray day and the spray from the cars and trucks reduced visibility significantly. I spent a 30- to 40-mile stretch with a large truck playing with me to the point that I eventually took an exit and got gas well before I needed to, simply to get away from this large truck because I feared a collision with more or another driver was inevitable.
When I first encountered this truck, I was passing another series of large trucks that were traveling well below the speed limit. The offending truck came speeding up behind me getting so close I could see nothing but its grill in my rear view mirror. I moved over as soon as it was safe to do so and the truck proceeded to move over just in front of me, almost hitting me in the process and creating a spray that cut my visibility to zero. I watched it speed off ahead of me until it was slowed down by another series of its slow moving brothers. It then changed lanes suddenly in an attempt to pass the slower large trucks, cutting off and almost hitting another car, which had to brake hard and fast to avoid a collision. The offending truck then slowed to around 50 miles per hour in the passing lane of a 70-mile per hour speed zone creating another back up of passenger vehicles.
I don’t think I have been on a highway in recent months where I haven’t witnessed or been the victim of a similar “cut off to pass and immediately slow down” situation. After the offending truck eventually moved over and the series of cars that had been slowed to well under the appropriate speed, including me, passed it, it started speeding again. A dance of “almost run me over,” “pass me,” “cut me off,” and “slow down dramatically until I passed again” began, which lasted until I finally exited the highway to get away from the offending truck. Unfortunately, I was unable to get identifying information to report the driver. Everyone who drove to Columbus from Wheeling that day for the party mentioned how stressful the drive had been and the need for “defensive driving” to make it safely.
The most recent statistics available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that injuries and fatalities arising from crashes involving large trucks are on the increase. During the year 2012, 333,000 large trucks were involved in traffic crashes throughout the United States. Fatalities arising from traffic crashes involving large trucks rose to 3,921, a 4 percent increase from the year 2011 where 3,781 people were killed. Of the 3,921 people killed during 2012, 73 percent were occupants of other vehicles. Another 104,000 people were injured in crashes with large trucks, an 18 percent increase over the year 2011. For the year 2012, 9.3 percent of the 1,123 deaths that occurred on Ohio roads involved large trucks, 9.7 percent of 1,310 traffic fatalities in Pennsylvania involved large trucks and large trucks were involved in 10.4 percent of the 339 traffic deaths that occurred in West Virginia.
With winter weather upon us, driving conditions will not always be ideal. With reckless driving by large trucks seemingly increasing, the need for defensive driving also needs to increase. You should always be prepared for a large truck to change lanes, cutting you off without notice. If tragedy strikes and you or a loved one are involved in a crash involving a large truck, the attorneys and staff at Bordas & Bordas are prepared to help. We have the experience and resources available to hold reckless drivers of large trucks responsible for the injuries they cause on our nation’s highways.