Are rural roads more dangerous for truck drivers than urban streets? In general, yes. Any rural two way road with little room to maneuver is dangerous. The high wheat and corn fields make the vehicles invisible and many horrific accidents happen out in western Kansas. What can motorists do to avoid collisions with semi-trucks while taking a drive through the countryside? In 2014, 61% of all large truck crashes occurred on rural roads including highways and interstates. By 2015, that number had risen to 64%. Overall, in 2015 there were a total of 415,000 accidents involving semi-trucks and other large vehicles that were reported to the police. Of these, 4,311 involved fatalities which represented an 8% increase from 2014. A further 83,000 semi-truck accidents caused personal injuries. The dangers are real and nationwide semi-trucks pose a clear and present danger to motorists. Fortunately, there are steps drivers should take to protect themselves while traveling down dirt roads, country lanes, and rural highways.
Rural roads present long stretches of "nothingness" which can increase fatigue and raise the potential for distraction. Sometimes referred to as "highway hypnosis," this can lead to distracted truck drivers can fail to notice vehicles that approach from behind, fail to control speed, fail to notice wildlife approaching the roadway, leave the lane of travel, drive too fast through rural work zones, or rear end vehicles that are stopped at rural intersections. Additionally, signage and road markings on rural roads are often less than on urban streets which increases the potential for driver errors that can lead to fatality or injury causing accidents. There are many areas across the state that have unmarked open intersections with hedge rows and planted fields causing extreme obstructions and dangers.
Rural roads are also less illuminated than city streets. This increases the potential for accidents in the early morning, at dusk, or during the evening. Nationwide, 35% of fatal truck accidents and 21% of personal injury causing crashes occur between the hours of 6 pm and 6 am. On rural roads, these accidents can involve motorists who drive with broken headlights and taillights, wildlife that dart across the road, and damage to the road surface that can't be seen easily at night.
Motorists can take active measures to protect themselves from becoming involved in a semi truck collision. One of the most important things to remember is to stay out of the blind spot. For most large trucks, the blind spot extends 20 feet directly in front and 30 feet behind the vehicle. It also includes at least one lane to the right of the vehicle and two lanes to the left of the vehicle. On a one or two lane rural road or highway in low-light conditions, these areas are particularly dangerous for motorists. While many newer trucks have cameras that provide visibility to the driver in these areas, motorists should never count on these cameras to eliminate the risks of these dangerous zones. A majority of the semi crashes that I handle are from people who are driving side by side to a semi and the semi does not look and does not see them and crashes into them or turns into them.
Motorists should also use extreme care when attempting to pass a semi truck on a rural road. This means making sure there is sufficient distance between the passenger vehicle and the semi truck, that the passing lane is long enough to conduct the maneuver, and that there is a sufficient distance between the passenger vehicle and oncoming traffic to avoid a head-on collision. It is also important for drivers to properly maintain their vehicle including their brakes, lights, and warning systems. This can improve their visibility to semi truck drivers and make it possible for them to safely navigate around large trucks to avoid a semi truck collision. I always advise people that they should only pass when they can make a wide fast pass so that the semi does not veer into their lane.
Brad Pistotnik Law represents clients who experience a semi truck collision in Olathe, Lawrence, Wichita, Topeka, El Dorado, McPherson, Gardner, Leawood, Salina, De Soto, Ulysses, Kingman, Pratt, Garden City, Liberal, Elk City, Springfield, Decatur, Chicago, Dodge City, Kingman, Pratt, Satanta, Ulysses, Goodland, Ness City, Newton, Emporia, McPherson, Hutchinson, Arkansas City, Wellington, Omaha, Lincoln, Grand Junction, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Laredo, Guymon, Kearney, Lincoln, Orlando, Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami and elsewhere in Kansas, Illinois, Nebraska, Missouri, Florida, Texas, and Oklahoma. Our firm helps clients pursue the compensation they need to recover from their injuries they suffer and repair the property damage they sustain.
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