The Tampa Bay and Central Florida regions are home to dangerous highways filled with a bustling transportation industry. The growing number of semi-trucks on our fast paced roads is good reason for knowledge about critical risk factors. Tractor trailers are an average of 53 feet in length, with 3 major blind spots, and carry loads up to 80,000 pounds!
For starters, semi- truck drivers are required to carry certain vehicle licensure such as a CDL. However, the infractions that an operator may have acquired in the past do not go against the person applying for an operator license; so long as they can pass the written and physical exams. Last fall an operator of a semi-truck attempted to pass a sedan on busy Interstate 75 over the Alafia River. The truck clipped the rear of the slow moving BMW causing the car to veer off of the bridge and plunge into the river where the driver, James Proctor a respiratory therapist, died. The semi-truck overturned with 30,000 pounds of inventory due to the collision leaving the operator with minor injuries. The operator of the truck was a 30 year old male with 6 driving suspensions and 27 infractions on his record within 10 years. His negligence caused a man to die. This incident proves that even a small tap on the bumper can be life threatening at high speeds along with the power of a semi-truck. We are seeing more traffic accidents involving tractor trailers as there is a growing number of them travelling through the state especially to the central and bay area regions. According to Popular Mechanics there are 5.6 million semi-trucks (tractor trailers) registered for use in the U.S. Another interesting fact is nearly half of all semi-trucks operating in the U.S. are registered in Florida, Texas, and California. Our growing industry is on the brink of making Florida the largest hub for truckers.
Safety is key. When driving in front of a large truck keep in mind that you are in their blind spot. The operator cannot see the trunk of your vehicle and quite possibly your entire vehicle could be out of sight. The second blind spot is on the right passenger side of the 53 foot long trailer. The third is on the left. If you are driving alongside a large truck it is a smart idea to be parallel with the operator to avoid the large blind spots. Once you pass a semi-truck DO NOT SLOW DOWN. This is very dangerous as the trucks rely on 18 wheels. The most common accident with semi-trucks is rolling over. The operator may over correct the vehicle when avoiding collision or on wet pavement. A study performed between 2001 and 2009 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration showed that of 290 roll-over crashes, 77% were single vehicle events. A winding road, a tight curve, and weather conditions all make an impact on the driver’s capabilities and the truck’s limits. Semi-trucks require 40% greater time to come to a complete stop than cars. Last November a semi-truck travelling on Interstate 75 lost control of the truck when it moved onto the unpaved shoulder causing the truck to overturn. The driver sustained serious injuries.
By sharing this information with your family and friends you could save someone’s life.