Most people drive cautiously around semi-trucks on slick, snow-covered streets in winter, but few consider their semi-truck accident risk when loading up the family for a fun afternoon at Maumee Bay State Park. The increase in truck accident risk during the summer months is a combination of environmental factors, truck driver negligence, and passenger car negligence.
Why are truck accidents more likely in the summer?
The risk of truck accidents increases in the summer for some reasons; many of these fall on the shoulders of the truckers themselves.
There is an increase in construction on interstates, which present an array of accident risks for truckers who do not pay careful attention to the road and motorists around them. Most summers begin with construction to repair cracks in the roads that developed due to ice expansion.
It is much harder for a truck to move over for a lane closure or maneuver in tight spaces than your typical passenger car. Truck drivers also may not see a hazard on the road until it is too late to stop and avoid a collision.
Construction can also shut down normal routes, causing detours off of highways and onto city streets. This change of route makes a truck driver’s job more difficult, as it causes them to navigate a large vehicle among normal city traffic.
More Materials to Move
As construction picks up during the summer, more truckers will be on the road transporting necessary materials to the site. Heavy construction materials can increase the likelihood of a rollover or jackknife accident. There is also an additional risk of improperly loaded trucks. An unbalanced load can also lead to rollover accidents or spilled cargo hazards on the road.
More semis and flatbed haulers will be on the road moving construction equipment from site to site. These trucks are often designated as wide-load and are difficult to maneuver in heavy traffic. Due to the payload size, the driver of these haulers may have an even greater difficulty seeing nearby traffic than a standard semi.
Higher Risk of Tire Blowout
According to Popular Mechanics magazine, “tire blowout season” runs from mid-May to early October, the hottest months of the year. Heat plays a significant role in causing a tire blowout, which can send a semi swerving into other lanes and crash into anything nearby.
Tire blowouts occur more frequently during the hot summer months for several reasons:
- Long trips
- Warn tires
Truckers in a hurry to complete more trips in good summer weather might neglect upkeep on their tires, making them more prone to a blowout.
Distracted and Fatigued Drivers
Even though federal regulations disallow cell phone use and driving past a certain amount of hours, not all truck drivers abide by these rules.
It’s much easier for a driver to fall into a false sense of security when driving on a warm, sunny day. During the winter, drivers have to concern themselves with possible weather-related hazards like blizzards and ice. However, in the summer there is less likely to be severe weather, and truck drivers may become lax without needing to keep alert.
When a truck driver gets too comfortable, they inadvertently reduce their reaction time and observation skills. In the summer, daylight lasts longer, which can lead truck drivers to violate the rules of service hours. Drivers who push themselves to drive through every minute of daylight often end up fatigued and more prone to errors.
School’s Out for the Summer
With school on summer break, families and teens will be hitting the road. Parents often take the summer vacation as a time for road trips, increasing the congestion on highways. Road trips can become distracting to drivers, especially with young kids in the car needing attention.
With no school in session, more inexperienced teen drivers will be on the road. Teens usually have less time behind the wheel and experience avoiding obstacles or handling sudden changes in traffic flow. Summer also means groups of teens traveling together, which can lead to driver distractions and unsafe driving games.
A common example is when two or more cars full of teenagers are traveling to a destination, they will race to cut each other off or reach the destination first. This game ignores basic traffic safety and puts both the teens and truck drivers in danger of a collision. A truck driver cannot stop as easily to avoid hitting a car that zips in and out of traffic in front of them.
Teen drivers are also more likely to drive distracted, engaging in behaviors like using their cell phones and talking with passengers, according to AAA.
How do motorists factor into summer truck accidents?
A truck driver is not responsible for every truck accident. Passenger car drivers can increase the risk of semi-truck accidents if they:
- Tailgate a truck
- Drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Drive distracted
- Drive without the proper experience
What can I do to keep my family safe?
While it may be impossible to prevent all traffic accidents, you can reduce your risk of severe injury or death by taking a few precautions when you head out this summer. This includes:
- Always wearing a seatbelt
- Driving the proper speed for the road and weather conditions
- Driving without distractions (Ensure your teens drive without distractions as well. Summer is the most dangerous time for teenage drivers.)
- Paying careful attention to trucks and other nearby traffic
Whenever you see a truck in your immediate vicinity, it is best to give it a wide berth, especially when they begin signaling to change lanes. Driving a truck of that size and length is difficult, and maneuvering between lanes can be problematic if other drivers do not give the truck a comfortable amount of room within which to work.
For more ways to stay safe on the road this summer, check out our blog and library.
Legal Help after a Truck Accident
If you or a loved one suffered injury in a truck accident, call Gallon, Takacs, Boissoneault & Schaffer Co., L.P.A. Our truck accident attorneys dedicate their careers to getting injured Ohioans the compensation they need and deserve after a catastrophic semi-truck accident.
Contact us today for help: 419-843-6663.