Reducing risk of dangerous drivers: Head-on crashes and truck accidents

Sharing the road with dangerous drivers can have dire consequences. Even the safest of drivers have no control over the way others operate their vehicles. The chances of walking away from a motor vehicle accident unharmed are slim, particularly when the crash involves a large vehicle or a tractor-trailer.

AlaskaDispatch.com reports that Anchorage Police have identified the victim of a recent head-on collision. The accident took place near Potter Marsh, on Alaska's Seward Highway. Around 7:00 p.m. a 29-year-old Whittier firefighter's car crashed into a tractor-trailer. The car's driver was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the tractor-trailer was not injured but the truck was forced onto its side on the highway, closing it down completely for eight hours. The truck was carrying thousands of gallons of mineral oil. Police continue to investigate the cause of the accident.

National data for head-on fatalities and large-truck accidents

In 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association published a Traffic Safety Facts Report. The data showed that every 14 minutes, someone lost their life due to a motor vehicle crash. In 1998, there were 6,684 fatalities reported from head-on collisions, compared to 3,914 in 2008, a significant decline.

More than 10 percent of motor vehicle traffic fatalities involved a large truck, based on 2008 data. In crashes involving large trucks the driver of the large truck was the victim of the fatality in only 16 percent of the reported accidents, with 74 percent of the victims driving more traditional vehicles.

Head-on accident prevention tips and driving safely near large trucks

The prevalence of head-on crashes, and crashes involving large trucks has led insurance companies to publish information aimed at promoting safety and preventing these types of accidents.

The Zenith Insurance Company provides the following tips, aimed at helping drivers react safely in situations where a head-on collision seems imminent:

  • Drive in the right-hand lane when on multiple-lane highways; having to pull over into a ditch is safer than having to cross traffic into another automobile.
  • When you need to get out of the way of an oncoming vehicle, veering to the right prevents you from entering the lanes where other cars may be.
  • When slowing and pulling over to a shoulder, attempt to keep the two wheels on the driver's side of the car on the pavement, which provides more stability and better traction than the gravel usually found on the shoulder.
  • If your split-second decision is between hitting a vehicle head on, or hitting a fixed object on the side of the road, like a telephone pole or a tree, the fixed object is likely safer, as it has no momentum of its own.

State Farm Insurance provides tips for avoiding tractor-trailer accidents:

  • Maintain a safe driving distance, recommended at 20 to 25 car lengths when driving behind a tractor-trailer.
  • Avoid driving in the tractor-trailer's extensive blind spots: if you cannot see the driver in his or her side mirror, he or she likely cannot see you.
  • Use signals and avoid abrupt lane changes, as unpredictable actions can cause reactions by truck drivers.
  • If you feel a large truck driver is driving aggressively, do not react in kind. Aggressive road rage increases the probability of an accident.

Even the most cautious driver can't control the actions of other unsafe drivers on the road. If you have been the victim of an automobile accident, contact an experienced attorney today who can help put you on the road to recovery.