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Devon Glass
Devon Glass
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Are Double-Bottomed Semis More or Less Dangerous to You?

3 comments

Continuing with our series, Steve from the Lombardi Law Firm posted on the Des Moines InjuryBoard today on semi-trucks and tractor-trailers. I will continue in that vein, attempting to enlighten Michiganders on interstate safety. Specifically, the next few days will focus on what “to beware of” while driving on the interstate.

As you can probably guess, a car can never win when in a collision with a semi-truck or tractor-trailer. As my cohort states, a semi in North America has three axles, 18 wheels, and can also have a double bottom. The specs of a semi are: 102 inches wide, 13.5 high and can weigh in at a whopping 80,000 pounds. A Ford Focus weights in at 2, 588 pounds. Even a heavier car can’t hold a candle to a semi—even the F-150 that Steve drives only weighs 12,600 pounds. It isn’t difficult to figure that no car or truck can withstand a crash with a semi. Needless to say, neither can the driver.

While driving on the various interstates in Michigan (North-to-South Interstates 69 and Interstate 75 and East-to-West Interstates 94 and 96, for those of you not from the Great Lakes State), you may have noticed the high speeds that many semis travel at. Factor in that many truck drivers are probably bored and souped-up on coffee to stay awake because they’ve driven too many hours straight, and you get a pretty angry and aggressive driver. This fact has become all too familiar for many Americans. So how do you deal with aggressive semis on the road? Avoid them is our best advice. Here are some specific steps to take to keep yourself safe on the interstate:

· Don’t “hang out” on either side of trucks.

· Don’t cut in front of semis or tractor-trailers.

· Always wear your seat belt.

· Don’t drive aggressively yourself—you put yourself at risk with unsafe driving. Remember, it is difficult to maneuver a huge semi truck.

· Don’t “squeeze play”—trying to cut in front of a semi while it is turning could “squeeze” you in between the curb and the semi, causing serious injury or death.

· Never drink and drive.

3 Comments

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  1. Mike Bryant says:
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    Great advice and nice addition to Steve’s great posts.

  2. Truckie D says:
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    Devon –
    I take exception to some of the points in this post. You stated “…many truck drivers are probably bored and souped-up on coffee to stay awake because they’ve driven too many hours straight, and you get a pretty angry and aggressive driver” and “…the high speeds that many semis travel at”

    Bored? Probably — but in trucking, bored is good. It’s excitement that drivers want to avoid. Excitement usually means something bad is happening.

    Souped up on coffee? Maybe — but no more so than the guy driving with a triple espresso in one hand and a cell phone in the other. Caffeine does help alertness, which is a good thing, as long as it’s not overdone.

    Driving too many hours straight? This is nowadays the exception rather than the rule. Aggressive HOS enforcement, company supervision, and large judgments against drivers who have exceeded their legal hours have reduced this problem greatly. Throw in the slow freight environment that we’re currently in, and a high percentage of drivers are spending more time sitting than driving.

    Tired doesn’t automatically mean angry and aggressive. In my experience, the opposite is true. Angry and aggressive usually comes as a response to some idiot in a car doing something really stupid around a truck — and it happens a lot. It’s a testament to the patience and professionalism of truck drivers that more of these idiots don’t get run over.

    When it comes to speed, virtually all company trucks are road speed governed. Most company trucks these days are governed in the 60-65 mph range. Particularly with diesel prices being what they are these days, speed over this range is simply too expensive. While there are ungoverned trucks on the road, (and mine is one) most drivers still hold their speed down. I usually run in the 60-62 mph range, which is a good compromise between speed and economy.

    I also think your title for this post “Are Double-Bottomed Semis More or Less Dangerous to You?” is misleading. You make no statements for or against this proposition, or offer any data at all.

    Your advice at the end of this post is good, but should also include not using cell phones and not texting while driving.

  3. Devon Glass says:
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    Thanks for commenting Truckie D. I would say that my post is not meant to advocate one position or another, so I guess the title is a bit misleading. Rather, I am trying to get information out to the public so they are aware of what double-bottomed semis are capable of on the road.

    Boredom, I think, can be a problem if a driver is not paying proper attention. I a driver of any vehicle is day dreaming or not paying attention to the road ahead, I think you would agree this could be bad.

    I’ve not done many trucking cases, but one thing I’ve heard from a number of attorneys who litigate those types of claims tell me is the number of truckers who drive beyond the limits. This may be a small number of overall truck drivers, but it’s enough that it can cause accidents. Any accident involving a truck is likely to be serious, as a truck is so much larger than the cars they interact with on the road.

    I agree that truck drivers probably get irritated by crazy car drivers, so you won’t get any argument from me.

    Driving a truck is a huge responsibility, one that comes with many potentially unfair criticisms. While you are right that many truck drivers are not driving dangerous, there need only be a few of them to cause major accidents and injuries. Since trucks are many times the size of regular cars, they have an added responsibility to be careful of others.