The headlines are all-too-familiar: Man killed in crash with semi on 1-90; 1 dead in fiery semi crash. These and others like them happened in the summer of 2019, and they happened in Illinois.
In late June, a 54-year-old Chicago man’s Jeep was idling in some morning traffic on I-90. A westbound semi rear-ended the Jeep, launching it forward into two other vehicles. The driver of the Jeep was transported to a hospital but died a couple of hours later. One other driver was also hospitalized for emotional distress.
Just a few days later, up near Wilmington, another semi crashed into stopped traffic. This caused a five-vehicle pileup, with three of those vehicles erupting in flames. This time, the driver of the semi was pronounced dead at the scene.
What causes most trucking accidents?
Road conditions didn’t play a part in the above fatal accidents; they all occurred on sunny summer days. What clearly played a part was distracted semi drivers, as a collision with stopped traffic was the common denominator.
While distractions play a large part in semi-truck-related accidents, here are a few other common causes:
- Merging or swerving: Illinois is a busy place. We have a lot of highways, and a lot of truckers use those highways. While sharing the road with semi-trucks, pay special attention to their driving patterns. Large trucks have large blind spots.
- Speed: Speed kills, especially during unfavorable road conditions due to weather.
- Blowouts and other malfunctions: If a large truck malfunctions, this can lead to a loss of control. A semi parked on the shoulder with a blown tire is a familiar sight. This common situation can be disastrous for other drivers.
What can you do?
Semis are enormous, and paired with any of the conditions above, they can be extremely dangerous. The numbers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, are distressing: 27% of fatal trucking accidents occurred on major highways; 58% in rural areas; 78% on weekdays and 72% during working hours. This means, on average, that these horrific crashes are happening in broad daylight, and that alcohol is presumably not a factor.
Here are a few safety precautions you can–and should–take when sharing our roadways with these high-speed juggernauts:
- Pay attention: Again, blind spots are a huge problem for tractor trailers. Pay attention, stay visible and stay alert.
- Give them some space: Weaving in and out of traffic is never a good idea, especially when that traffic contains one or more 40-ton trucks traveling at or above 55 mph.
- Be patient: We all want to be first in line when it comes to Illinois road travel, especially if you’re in a hurry. Be patient. Rushing to pass a large truck could cost you everything.
- Keep calm: Same with aggressive driving. Think of it this way: You don’t stand a chance against a fully loaded tractor trailer. Wait your turn.
Exercise caution when traveling on Illinois roadways. Your very life may depend on it.