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How you avoid becoming part of trucking's accident statistics

Most people have no idea how much the average truck accident costs in terms of financial losses for those injured or killed.

Frankly, the statistics are really dismal to acknowledge: The average victim injured in an accident with a truck will sustain $62,000 worth of medical bills and lost wages, plus whatever he or she is due for pain and suffering. The average family of someone killed in a wreck with a truck is going to experience a lifetime of losses that will likely total $3 million or more.

How do you avoid becoming part of those statistics?

It takes being alert to some of the subtle signs that a truck driver is having problems -- and that isn't easy to do when you're trying to focus on your own wheels on the road.

In accidents involving a truck and another type of motor vehicle, 87 percent of the time the accident is related to driver fatigue. Only 10 percent is related to mechanical failures and 3 percent to factors like wind, rain, ice or snow. That makes "drowsy driving" the number one thing that other motorists need to worry about from truckers.

So how do you spot a tired trucker? Watch for some common signs:

  • The truck keeps speeding up and slowing down erratically with no obvious purpose.
  • The trucker keeps drifting slightly out of his or her lane and then sharply pulling back again into it.
  • The truck runs a red light or misses another clear traffic signal and suddenly tries to correct his or her path.

All of those are good indications that the trucker is fighting sleep -- and failing.

What do you do next?

First, protect yourself -- preferably by pulling off to the side of the road so that you can take the next step.

Then, call 911 and let the police know you think you spotted a truck driver falling asleep at the wheel. Give them as much information as you can -- including the license plate number if you were able to get it.

Finally, if the truck had a company number on the back, try to call it. The dispatch operator may be able to reach the trucker with orders to pull over before the police do.

Since truck driver fatigue is clearly deadly, your actions may save more lives than just your own.

Source: truckdrivingjobs.com, "Truck Driving Accidents -- Causes, Fatalities, Statistics and Costs," accessed Dec. 11, 2017

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