Safety Responsibilities for West Virginia Truck Drivers
Being a truck driver is a hard job. The hours. The miles. The deadlines. The truck is a lot to handle: eighteen wheels covering the interstates. The weight of the product is counted not in pounds but in tonnage. An average haul is 20 tons. But truckers are trained to do that job well, making safety a high priority.
Truckers in West Virginia have the same problems as those anywhere in the country
Truck drivers should always observe the following safeguards to prevent accidents that could be catastrophic or deadly. They include:
- Other motorists may not be aware of a truck’s “no” zones, where crashes are more likely to happen: off to the side just in front of the cab; just behind the side mirrors; and directly behind the truck. If not aware of these trouble spots, other drivers may ride dangerously close. It is up to the trucker to exercise caution while changing lanes to maintain a safe distance.
- Reducing speed in work zones is key: About a third of all fatal work-zone accidents involve large trucks. Truckers need to take their time going through interstate construction – the delivery can wait.
- Always maintain the truck: Give the vehicle a thorough check each morning – horn, mirrors, fluid levels. The brakes are always vital, especially given how much weight is riding on them. Truckers who spot anything unusual should report it to dispatch before attempting to drive to the destination.
- Load the cargo wisely: The higher cargo is stacked, the more drag on the truck. Stacking lower and spreading cargo through the full space of the truck helps the vehicle stay nimbler and improve fuel economy.
- Always reduce speed on curves: On exit/entrance ramps, the speed limits are meant more for cars. However, trucks have a tendency to tip over if they take curves too fast. When traveling through any curve, truckers need to set their speed far lower than the posted limit to make up for the rig’s unique dimensions. This could prevent a rollover from occurring.
- Make adjustments for bad weather: About 25 percent of all speeding-related truck driving accidents happen in inclement weather. Trucks should cut their speed down by one-third on wet roads, and by one-half on snowy or icy ones. In addition, they need to turn on their blinkers well before changing lanes and signal for turns before slowing down.
- Never drink and drive: This goes without saying for any motorist, but it's especially important for truckers. The legal limit for truck drivers is a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.04, half the limit for other motorists.
- Avoid cell phones and other means of distraction: Distracted driving is a growing problem on West Virginia roadways, resulting in numerous injuries and fatalities. Truckers need to put down the handheld device and keep their hands on the steering wheel, eyes on the road, and mind on driving.
- Take responsibility for self-care: A big part of truck driver safety is the driver's own health and readiness. Truckers need to get enough sleep, eat right and exercise in order to remain safe behind the wheel. Even dressing comfortably counts.
A wave of new technology intended to make trucks safer — using radar, cameras and reflective light scanning — is growing in the industry.
One reason this is important to people who don’t drive tractor-trailers, can be found in the annual crash-death numbers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Of the 4,317 people who died in crashes involving large trucks last year, 72 percent of them weren’t in trucks, but in passenger cars. An additional 11 percent were pedestrians, bicyclists, roadway workers or police officers standing beside the highway, according to statistics in 2017. That's why truckers have an elevated responsibility to stay safe, not just to protect themselves, but also to protect everyone else on the roadway.
Should you be involved in an accident caused by a negligent truck driver, contact West Virginia’s personal injury law firm of Mani Ellis & Layne.