Because large trucks typically travel on interstates, which are among the safest roadways, they generally have lower crash rates, about 1.1 fatal crashes per 100 million miles traveled compared to the 1.3 for passenger vehicles. (These trucks are defined as weighing more than 10,000 pounds and composed of either single units or one tractor pulling one or more trailers.)
And yet, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, about 1 in 10 highway deaths are due to crashes that involve large tracks. And most deaths are not to the truck drivers but to occupants of passenger vehicles. This is not surprising because a truck can weigh up to 30 times more than a car. They are also taller with higher ground clearances which mean small cars generally crash under truck frames.
A major factor in truck crashes includes driver fatigue. Federal laws limit drivers of large truck to a maximum of 11 hours, which is a long time. Many drivers exceed these limits in order to get more work done faster. Another is braking capability. Trucks require much longer stopping distances than cars especially after a rainstorm has covered the road surface in water. A small vehicle that dashes in front of a truck and suddenly stops may not give the driver enough distance to avoid a collision.
If you’re driving a car among trucks, avoid traveling in front of them unless you can put several truck lengths of empty space behind you. Instead, use the lane next to the truck or stay behind them. Be aware that if you’re behind a truck and cannot see the driver’s face in his rear-view mirror, he will not know your vehicle is there.