OK motorists encouraged to drive safely around big rigs

Some motorists may be unaware of the dangers associated with tractor trailers and should know the common causes of tragic truck accidents.

Although Oklahoma motorists may be used to sharing the road with tractor trailers on a daily basis, they may not be fully aware of the potential dangers that are present when driving alongside these massive vehicles. Large trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and may be as long as 56 feet, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Due to their sheer size alone, tractor trailers should be operated by qualified, well-trained truckers. Sadly, this is not always the case. Stories of catastrophic truck accidents caused by drowsy, distracted and otherwise negligent truck drivers fill the media. Drivers should know how to drive safely around tractor trailers in order to prevent a truck accident from occurring.

The deadly facts

Since 2009, the number of people killed in large truck accidents across the country has risen from 3,211 deaths to 3,906 deaths in 2013, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Oklahoma alone has seen a dramatic increase in large truck accident deaths from 78 fatalities in 2009 to 124 deaths in 2012. In 2013, the death rate declined to 116 fatalities. However, large truck accident deaths still represented nearly 12 percent of all motor vehicle accident fatalities in the state that year.

Common causes of large truck accidents

What causes these tragic truck accidents? While there are many different precursors to tractor trailer collisions, the following are the most common, according to IIHS.

•· Drowsy and distracted truckers: Since truckers spend long hours behind the wheel, driver fatigue and distraction are an issue. Federal regulations limit the amount of time truckers can spend behind the wheel. Yet, many are encouraged to violate these regulations in an attempt to make more money and meet strict delivery deadlines.

•· Bad weather conditions: Ice, wind, snow, rain and fog can spell disaster for truckers who are unable to control their big rigs. Large trucks can tip over, jack-knife or skid into other vehicles if they are not handled properly in inclement weather conditions.

•· Defective equipment: Bad brakes, tires, signals and safety equipment could cause a truck to malfunction while driving.

•· Improper weight distribution: If a truck's load is not distributed properly according to product density and size, it can cause a trailer to sway, jack-knife or tip over in certain circumstances.

Truck accidents can also be caused by motorists who drive recklessly around tractor trailers, according to State Farm. It is crucial that motorists avoid pulling out in front of big rigs. Drivers should also stay out of trucks' blind spots and give them plenty of room to turn.

Surviving a large truck accident

Going through the aftermath of a large truck accident can be extremely difficult. You may suffer from severe injuries, property damage and emotional trauma that was caused by the collision. You may be unable to return to work because of your injuries. A personal injury attorney in Oklahoma may be able to help you get compensation for your expenses, and may help you pick up the pieces of your life after a tractor trailer accident.