There were 4,544 semi-truck accidents in Indiana during 2022, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. 999 of these crashes caused injuries, while 188 produced fatalities.
Handling winter weather can be especially challenging for truck drivers, adding a layer of difficulty to the already demanding task of maneuvering semi-trucks. By understanding the underlying reasons for these challenges, you can help keep Indiana’s roads safer.
Semi-trucks and control
Semi-trucks, often weighing several tons, are sometimes hard to control, especially on icy or snowy roads. The sheer mass of these trucks reduces their ability to respond quickly to steering and braking.
Winter road conditions, marked by snow and ice, significantly reduce the grip between the truck’s tires and the road. This reduced traction makes trucks more prone to skidding or sliding, particularly when turning or attempting to come to a stop.
The increased momentum due to the truck’s weight makes it challenging to bring it to a halt promptly. When roads are slippery, the distance required for a truck to stop safely is longer.
Reduced tire traction prolongs the time it takes for the brakes to effectively slow down the truck. Combined with the inertia resulting from the truck’s weight, drivers must anticipate and initiate braking well in advance.
Tips for winter driving
Passenger car drivers can often avoid accidents with semi-trucks in icy conditions by following these precautions:
Keep a considerable distance behind semi-trucks, allowing for increased stopping distance and reducing the risk of rear-end collisions.
Stay out of a truck’s blind spots, especially alongside and directly behind it, ensuring the driver can see your vehicle at all times.
Use turn signals early, maintain a consistent speed and avoid sudden lane changes, allowing truck drivers to anticipate your movements.
Keep headlights on, even during daylight, to enhance visibility. Trucks have larger blind spots, and increased visibility helps truck drivers notice your presence.
When overtaking a truck, do so with caution and only when it is safe. Avoid cutting in front too closely, considering the truck’s longer stopping distance.
In icy conditions, brake early and gently to avoid skidding. Sudden braking may lead to loss of control, especially when driving close to a semi-truck.
Recognize that semi-trucks may need extra space for turns and maneuvering. Avoid crowding them, giving them room to navigate safely.
Understand that semi-trucks have limitations in icy conditions. Exercise patience, allowing trucks to navigate safely, and avoid aggressive driving behaviors that could lead to accidents.
Regular vehicle inspections, with a particular focus on brakes and tires, can also address potential issues.
Help reduce truck crashes
Everyone driving in The Hoosier State needs to do their part to reduce the risk of truck accidents.