With 15 deep water ports, Florida is a cargo busy state by sea, rail and particularly highway. This means thousands of large trucks transporting or hauling containers literally 24 hours a day seven day a week. These intermodal containers generally measure 8 ft by 8 ft by 20 ft. In addition, there are large trucks carrying a myriad of other commodities like hazardous materials, orange juice and just about everything available for retail.
Don’t Flirt with Disaster
It goes without saying, trucks are much heavier than cars, yet watching some drivers “flirt” with the danger of connecting with a heavy truck, one wonders if they realized the obvious. Trucks often weigh 20 to 30 times as much as a passenger vehicle and a loaded tractor-trailer can take 20–40 percent farther distance to stop. On a wet slippery road, this distance may increase.
According to an October, 2016 data report by the Florida Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles, medium/heavy trucks crashes included 222 fatalities, 4,812 injuries, 23,703 vehicle or other property damage.
Here are some suggestions for safer travel while sharing the road with large trucks from “Safe Bee” and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCA):
*Be aware of blind spots
*Look for the driver’s eyes in the trucks side view mirrors
*Avoid the area to the right when a truck is turning
*Don’t cut in and out of the lane where there is a truck
*Don’t travel alongside a truck during gusty winds
Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Have Responsibilities
Truck drivers should also observe safety precautions, such as hours of service regulations, restrictions on texting, medical examinations, and several other rules regulated under the FMCSA. The Administration also provides tips to commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers on maintaining safe following distances, noting that its Large Truck Crash Causation Study found that 5% of truck crashes occurred when the driver was following too closely behind the vehicle in front. Florida law requires trucks to keep 300 feet between them and other vehicles, but you can judge for yourself how well that law is followed. While you shouldn’t have to, if you feel you are being followed too closely by a CMV, safely change lanes.
Audrey Gibson is a State Senator and Paralegal with Terrell Hogan Law Firm