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Avoiding accidents with large trucks

From 2009 to 2016, the number of fatal large truck crashes went up 27 percent. This is according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System. In all, 3,986 people died in large truck crashes in 2016, and 66 percent of those fatalities were passenger vehicle occupants. Pennsylvania motorists can avoid becoming a statistic, though, if they consider some tips for avoiding truck crashes.

First of all, drivers should not become distracted or inattentive. Smartphones and other devices are the major source of distracted driving, so it's best to keep these out of sight and out of mind. Being aware of truckers and noticing any unsafe maneuvers they make is also key.

Tailgating must be avoided at all costs. Drivers should be at least 500 feet behind a truck, depending on the speed; this will give them a greater time in which to react to the unexpected. It's ideal, though, if drivers can see about one-fourth to one-half of a mile ahead of the truck. If they see brake lights or vehicle emergency lights in the distance, they can take preemptive action. Drivers should also take into account the weather and road conditions. They should reduce speed in snow, rain and fog, watch for debris, oil spills and other obstructions, and anticipate a truck moving into their lane to circumvent them.

About 70 percent of all truck accidents are caused by the driver of the passenger vehicle. Those who believe that the accident they were in belongs to the other 30 percent will want to see a lawyer about filing a claim against the trucking company. It could be, for example, that the trucker was distracted, drowsy or impaired by drugs or alcohol. Once the proof of negligence has been gathered, the lawyer could negotiate for a settlement.

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