As any 18 wheeler truck driver knows, the road can be a dangerous place with any number of potential hazards ready and waiting to turn your latest shipment into a disaster. Whether it’s black ice and snow in the winter or careless driving from smaller vehicles, dangerous situations on the road can cause huge problems for tractor-trailer drivers.
Just in case an 18 wheeler accident does occur, make sure you’re fully armed with the following tips to protect yourself and others.
What To Do After An 18 Wheeler Accident
Never Leave the Scene • An 18 wheeler takes up a lot of space on the road. In some cases, you’ll find that you don’t have a lot of room, even on a major highway. If you do find yourself in an accident, locate the nearest, safest place to turn off the road. This is particularly important if you find yourself in an incident with a smaller vehicle. Depending on where you or the smaller vehicle was hit, moving a safe distance away from traffic is extremely important.
Check For Injuries • Make sure to check yourself and any passengers for injuries. While driving an 18 wheeler truck affords some safeties during an accident, you are not immune to getting hurt.
Contact Your Dispatcher • Even before contacting the police, make sure you contact your dispatcher. He or she will need to know the full details of what happened. Every company has different policies in case of an accident, some of which may be different depending on the type of accident and the severity. Your dispatcher may even contact the police on your behalf and may contact medical services for you and for anyone else if the accident involves a car wreck.
Contact the Police • As with all accidents on the road, always contact the police. Inform them that an accident has occurred, that you are an 18 wheeler driver, and any other relevant details, such as what materials you are carrying and how long you have been driving. The police will want to see your license, registration, registered weight and hours on the road. They will also likely want to speak to your company, depending on the type of accident and the severity of the accident.
Never Admit Fault • There is a strong anti-truck culture that exists on the road. If you are in an accident, never admit fault. Instead, explain only what occurred from your perspective, focusing solely on the facts. Try to remain calm, avoiding emotional responses that either blame others or place blame on yourself. It’s easy to start pointing fingers, but avoid doing it.
Gather Information From All Parties • Make sure you gather information from everyone involved. Always inquire if the other parties are injured or need medical assistance, as well. This does not obligate you to provide medical assistance, but can be helpful information to have, particularly if you are contacting the police or medical services.
Seek Medical Treatment • In the case of an injury to either yourself or others involved in the 18 wheeler crash, make sure you seek medical treatment. Depending on the situation, your dispatcher or the police may have already called 911, but it is always good to make the call yourself, too.
Take Photographs of the Scene • It is important to take photographs of your truck, the accident itself, and any other vehicles involved. This could take some time, so make sure you are prepared to spend 30 minutes to an hour going over your vehicle. The details will help determine fault, and will help your dispatcher know what steps to take. If you have a dashboard camera, make sure you secure and download the video, as that evidence may be valuable.
What Can Cause an 18 Wheeler Accident?
Drunk & Distracted Drivers
Drunk or distracted drivers pose a very real threat to 18 wheelers. Far too often others drivers forget that tractor-trailers have fairly large blind spots and will drift into them, completely unaware that they cannot be seen by the truck driver.
Failure To Use Signals
Other drivers are perhaps the biggest concern for an 18 wheeler. Most truck drivers can you tell stories of improper passing on both the left or the right, and erratic lane changes. Because many drivers on the road fail to realize an 18 wheeler’s limitations, they’re often unaware how their driving habits can cause dangerous situations for everyone on the road.
Be on the lookout for drivers not using turn signals, speeding or weaving through traffic, not obeying traffic signs, and generally driving recklessly down the road. Likewise, ensure that you, as the driver of an 18 wheeler truck, are following all traffic laws.
Truck driver fatigue is a major concern in the transportation field. In hopes of reducing it, trucking companies and government regulations have become increasingly restrictive on the amount of hours drivers can log. Driving while fatigued reduces reaction times, greatly increasing accident the risk of an accident.