Tampa residents are saddened to hear of yet another deadly semi-crash right here in our own city. On Thursday, August 31, a semi-truck traveling East struck a Mitsubishi Outlander attempting to make a left-hand turn onto Adamo Drive. Of the four passengers in the SUV, the adult female passenger died from her injuries at the hospital. The driver (and adult male), and an 8-year-old passenger are both fighting for their lives in critical condition. The fourth victim, a juvenile, is currently in stable condition and is being treated for injuries.
This devastating crash is a reminder of how quickly things can go wrong when driving on the roads with commercial vehicles and why defensive driving is so important. The size and scale of semi trucks in comparison to modern-day sedans, SUVs, and minivans is a recipe for disaster. One wrong move can be deadly, as this accident exemplifies. The size alone isn’t what makes these trucks so deadly though.
Why Are Semi Trucks So Dangerous?
Commercial vehicles like 18-wheelers and other large trucks have multiple factors that impact their risk to other drivers. Because of their size, they require a much longer stopping time than other vehicles, and can’t react quickly when things go wrong. In addition, they have major blind spots on all sizes of the vehicle, preventing drivers from seeing other motorists until its too late to avoid a collision.
How, then, can you protect yourself and your loved ones when behind the wheel?
Defensive Driving Saves Lives Alongside Dangerous Semis
Driving is an active process, where you should focus on the task at hand. Unfortunately, many drivers fail to treat driving like a job, and instead, treat it like a privilege. Don’t become distracted by food, music, conversations with passengers, or sights passing by. Doing this puts you, and others, at risk of major accidents.
Operating your vehicle with focus and determination, or defensive driving, is an important skill for drivers of all ages. If you’ve ever avoided a near-accident, it was likely because you, intentionally or unintentionally, employed defensive driving tactics.
According to defensivedriving.org, defensive driving is “a skillset that allows you to identify potential hazards and adapt your driving to prevent an accident” and it revolves around preparation, observation, and taking appropriate action when necessary.
What practices do defensive drivers follow?
- expect the unexpected and plan ahead
- follow posted speed limits
- respect fellow drivers
- are always prepared to react to the actions of other motorists
- never make assumptions about other drivers’ actions
- pay attention to weather and road conditions and respond accordingly
- stay alert behind the wheel and avoid distractions
How does defensive driving protect you from semi-truck accidents?
During your daily commute in Tampa, you likely face multiple commercial vehicles, including semis. As mentioned above, semis have longer stopping times and more blind spots, thus limiting their reactivity on the road. Protecting yourself means employing the above practices, but what does that look like in real time?
Imagine the following scenario:
It’s rush hour on I-4 and you’re stuck in traffic behind an 18-wheeler. You’re watching your speed, watching your mirrors, and watching the time tick by while you wait for everyone to move a few more inches down the road. As taught, you keep several vehicle lengths between your car and the semi in front of you. Taking an upcoming exit to grab a cup of coffee and top off the tank sounds like a good idea since you’re stuck waiting anyway. You flip on your turn signal and watch your mirrors to make sure you’re clear on the right side before you merge. When traffic starts moving, you drive slowly forward and prepare to shift into the next lane. Suddenly the car in front of the semi-truck slams on its brakes, forcing the truck (and you) to do the same. You avoid an accident because you were quick to react, and had plenty of space left between yourself and the truck.
Observe this scenario and see that watching your speed and distance matter…but so does planning ahead and being prepared to react to the poor actions of other drivers.
In the above situation, you could have sped up quickly and closed the gap between you and the truck, letting you jet into the other lane. You would have assumed the truck would keep moving forward, allowing the distance you needed to get over. Because the semi driver wouldn’t have seen your signal due to their many blind spots, they would have done nothing to prevent the collision or avert the blow.
Accidents like these kill drivers every day.
In yesterday’s accident on Adamo Drive, the driver possibly didn’t see the oncoming semi or misjudged speed or distance before pulling out. Take steps such as looking twice (staying alert) and judging the speed of oncoming vehicles (preparing ahead) as two more ways to avoid accidents with other vehicles, including semis. Thanks to defensive driving, you don’t have to be a victim.
How Do You Learn to Drive Defensively?
Defensive driving can be, and is, taught through specialized classes like these in driving schools around the Tampa Bay Area. However, you don’t need a class to teach you the above practices. Stay alert and stay prepared. These are the marks of any good driver. Practicing defensive driving techniques not only protects you and your passengers but others on the road as well. You avoid even pedestrian accidents when you’re driving defensively on our local roads.
When you climb behind the wheel, put down the phone, turn down the radio, and treat driving like it’s a job. You wouldn’t spend time browsing the internet or doing your makeup during work hours in the office, so why would you do it behind the wheel? When you stay alert, prepare for the worst, and are always ready to react, you’ll be taking major steps toward protecting yourself on the road.
The team at Brooks Law Group is saddened to hear of another life lost due to a preventable collision with a semi truck. Our thoughts are with the families of those involved, and we hope this post offers some helpful information that will prevent accidents like this from happening in the future. We specialize in representing victims of semi-truck accidents, standing for them and their families when they can’t stand for themselves. We provide compassionate, personal legal services, and bring years of experience to the table. Our top priority is getting the justice you deserve and the compensation you need as you heal and move forward. You don’t pay unless we win. Contact us for your complimentary consultation and we’ll discuss your case and help you determine the best next steps to take.
When accidents happen in Tampa Bay, victims always Look to Brooks.