Large trucks were involved in 12% of all traffic fatalities in recent years. In 2016 alone, there were 4,079 truck accidents resulting in over 4,500 people losing their lives.
Here we give you a guide on how to stay safe on the road with large sugar cane trucks and other big rigs.
Sugar Cane Truck Accidents Aren’t So Sweet! Here’s How You Can Stay Safe
Sugar cane trucks begin operating full force in Louisiana around October and continue through the end of the year. These huge machines leave debris and mud all over the roadways.
These factors can lead to slippery roadways and dangerous situations for drivers. So, what should you do to avoid a crash? If you are involved in a collision what should you do? How do you know what to do after a car accident?
This article will give you the answers to these questions and prepare you for staying safe sharing our roadways with sugar cane trucks.
How To Avoid An Accident
Sharing the road with truckers comes with a whole different set of rules and responsibilities. You can help keep yourself and the truck driver safe by taking into consideration these important steps.
Stay Off Your Cell Phone
In this day and age, it should go without saying but, stay off your cell phone while driving. Whether you are driving a truck or a car, looking at your phone while operating your vehicle is bad news.
You need to stay aware of all road conditions at all times. This is especially important when commercial vehicles are sharing the road with you. It is impossible to be fully aware of the road while looking at a screen.
On some devices, you can make this easier on yourself. If you have it, turn on the do not disturb while driving option. This will automatically send a text that you are driving and cannot respond at the moment.
These options also give the person reaching out a method to break through if it is a true emergency.
When you have the feature turned on it takes away another temptation to look at your phone while behind the wheel.
Keep Your Distance
If you pull up on a sugar cane truck, or any vehicle large than your own, you need to remember to keep a safe distance away from them.
Do your best to stay two to three car lengths behind a truck. This will give you plenty of room to react should things go badly. You want to have space to avoid a collision.
Passing A Big Rig Truck
So, you’re stuck behind a slow-moving truck and want to get around them. You need to take a few things into consideration.
Trucks have limited braking ability. They need at least double if not triple the space to stop as you do in your small car.
If you need to pass a truck you need to do it as safely as possible. Stay 2-3 car lengths behind the truck and make sure you can see their mirrors. These trucks have huge blind spots so, you need to be able to see and be seen before taking action.
Put your signal on and wait a few seconds before making your move. Give the truck driver the opportunity to see you and your signal. When you’re ready, move into the left lane.
As with passing any type of vehicle, you should always pass on the left of a truck.
Once you are in the left lane, accelerate and pass the truck as quickly as possible. Once you are a good bit in front of the truck, 3-4 car lengths, put your turn signal on and merge back into the right lane.
Using this approach gives everyone the opportunity to understand what is about to happen. The truck driver won’t merge into you by mistake.
Defensive Driving Is The Best Driving
This is one to obey at all times but especially with trucks around. Defensive driving is the best way to avoid an accident.
“Driving defensively includes:
- Looking ahead and expecting the unexpected
- Controlling your speed
- Maintaining a safe following distance
- Preparedness for the reactions of other drivers
- Driving safely for weather and/or road conditions
- Being alert and distraction free
- Watching and respecting other drivers”
Aggressive driving is reckless and leads to more accidents. An aggressive driver will be seen weaving in and out of traffic, speeding, and taking unnecessary risk to get ahead on the road.
These tactics are prime to get you into a car wreck. In fact, speeding is one of the top causes of truck accidents in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Ok, so you’ve done all you can to avoid a collision but if you are involved in a collision what should you do? Read on to find out.
What To Do If You Have A Collision
So, you were driving defensively but still had an accident. It happens. But, what do you do at the scene?
If you are able, immediately call the police. You want to call the police in every accident so there is a verifiable record of what took place.
While you are waiting for the authorities to arrive gather all the evidence you can. The first thing you should do is take a photo of the license plate on the vehicle that hit you. You’ll be surprised to know that nearly 11% of drivers flee the scene of an accident.
Take photos of anywhere you may have been hurt, of all damage done to the vehicles, snap some shots of the scene of the accident including street signs. These will give you a sense of what happened later when you are asked to recall what happened.
Did anyone see the accident? Make sure you approach them and ask if they can stay and be a witness. Take a picture of their vehicle and license plate as well.
Once the police arrive they will ask you questions about what happened. Never admit fault at any point when speaking to the police or anyone else involved. Accidents are complicated and there may be extenuating circumstances even if you think it may be your fault.
Let the authorities do their job and assign citations as necessary.
Next Steps Once The Accident Has Happened
Once you’ve wrapped up the accident scene with the police and got your car on the tow truck what should you do next?
Believe it or not, call your doctor. Make an appointment for as soon as possible after the accident. Some symptoms of injury can take days to appear. If you sustained an injury from the accident you’ll want it recorded by your doctor.
Contact your insurance company next. File a claim immediately and follow their instructions on what they need from you. If you don’t know what to say or think your claim may be denied, you could have an attorney contact them for you.
Avoid posting anything on social media about the accident. The last thing you want is, if your case ends up in court, your posts after the accident being used against you.
Next, hire an attorney to cover your truck accident case. Even if you think your injuries are minor let a professional represent you. Most of the time the fact you have representation will get you a higher settlement or payout from the insurance company.
An attorney can also advise when it would be beneficial to go to court. The last thing you want to do is represent yourself in a court case. It could cost you big time.
Especially in the case of a major accident with a large sugar cane truck you need an attorney. The truck could belong to a major company which means the potential for a larger settlement for your injuries.
Keep Your Cool and Remember The Basics
We hope that you’ve learned more about how to handle truck accidents from this piece.
Make sure you are being cautious when it’s sugar cane season and these big trucks are around. Beware of muddy and debris covered roadways. Keep your cool and always drive defensively.
If you remember the basics of safe driving it’s easier to stay safe while sharing the roadway with trucks and commercial vehicles.
We also hope you feel empowered and won’t be caught off guard if you’re ever in an accident. Remember the steps we discussed:
- Take lots of pictures
- Call the police right away
- Call the doctor or go to the hospital as soon as possible
- File a claim with your insurance company
- Get an attorney on retainer right away
That way you have all your bases covered and are ready to face this challenge head-on.
Have you or a family member recently been in a truck accident?
We have an amazing staff of local Baton Rouge attorneys ready to help you through this process and make sure you get what you deserve. Learn more about our firm and how we can best represent you here on this page.