Why Are Parked Semi-Trucks So Dangerous?
Long before we learn about the scientific underpinnings of gravity, momentum, and other forces, we come to appreciate their effects through practical experience. Toddlers fall down. Children ride bikes and skateboards too fast and crash. Then we start to drive.
Some young drivers have frightening experiences – perhaps hydroplaning, skidding out of control, or even a fender bender. We hope that these unfortunate experiences at least help educate drivers about the dangers associated with speeding and losing control of our vehicles. But to many people, a vehicle that is completely stopped may seem innocuous.
While the risks associated with a parked semi-truck may be subtler than the obvious concern related to a giant tractor-trailer truck barreling down the highway, don’t be fooled. A parked 18-wheeler creates very real dangers.
In this article, we’ll talk about those dangers, along with some of the reasons they are proliferating.
Dangers Associated with Parked Semi-Trucks
Unfortunately, motorists sometimes get distracted for a moment and drift out of their lane. In other circumstances, a car may need to swerve to avoid a dangerous driver. High winds can even cause a car to momentarily pass outside the appropriate lane. Many of us have actually had this happen, and many people have drifted at least partway into an emergency lane as a result.
When a semi-truck is parked there, it’s like running into a wall. This is a hazard in any context, but especially on highways and interstates, it can become a nightmare. Underrides and other dangerous crashes can occur, resulting in death and horrible injury.
Another dangerous situation arises when trucks park improperly near commercial areas. It’s understandable that truck drivers sometimes want to stop at a retail store and purchase coffee, food, or use a restroom. However, many of these establishments do not have adequate parking for semi-trucks. Therefore, some drivers elect to park along the shoulder of the road or in other improper locations.
The problem is that the trucks are so large, they create blind spots for automobile drivers. For example, a car pulling out of a convenience store onto a busy highway may now be unable to see oncoming traffic in one direction because the semi-truck is blocking the automobile driver’s view. The car may then mistakenly pull out in front of other, unseen vehicles approaching at high rates of speed. As a result, a horrible crash can occur, which is essentially caused by the big truck, even though the tractor-trailer truck was not involved in the actual collision.
Regulation of Semi-Truck Parking
Parked big rigs cause such great risk that the federal government as well as state and local governments have all passed regulations specifically addressing them. For example, federal law requires that semi drivers not only place designated physical warning devices on the roadway surrounding the parked truck, but also turn on hazard warning signal flashers while setting up those devices. Failure to follow these rules can jeopardize safety.
Parking of Trucks Is a National Problem
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, there is a nationwide parking shortage for semi-trucks, which has become a national safety concern. This is, at least in part, the result of a couple of things.
First, the number of trucks on the road has increased dramatically with economic expansion, cheaper gasoline, and population growth. Additionally, as hours of service regulations have become stricter, drivers must stop driving when they reach their maximum number of hours. Of course, they need a place to park - but unfortunately, there often isn’t enough supply to meet the demand.
Call with Questions
Any time truck drivers ignore the rules of the road, including those related to parking, terrible accidents can result. While we appreciate the hard work of truckers, we also believe that the only way to protect society is to hold all professionals accountable for their negligence.
If you have been injured in an accident with a semi-truck, please call the experienced personal injury truck accident lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield with any questions you might have. We will be happy to answer them.