Some organizations are trying their best to minimize tragedy on America's roads, but it seems the problem won't be going away any time soon.
One problem is overweight trucks. The Port of Miami is trying to deal with this issue, but they are having minimal luck. Since they started weighing trucks leaving the port, authorities have found that over 40 percent of the trucks were overweight. During some weeks, more than 70 percent of trucks were overweight.
Overweight trucks cause a number of problems. First, they damage roads. According to road safety advocates, a truck that weighs 80,000 pounds can do as much damage to a road as 10,000 cars. Second, overweight trucks are at an increased risk of blowing out a tire or tipping over. When that happens with other vehicles around, the results can be deadly.
Another problem is that large trucks (especially overweight trucks) take longer to stop than smaller vehicles. That is likely the reason four people died on Rte. 95 in New Jersey last week.
Although not officially released, it appears that the driver of a flatbed truck was either speeding or not in control of his vehicle. He was unable to slow his truck in time to stop before hitting a car stopped in a traffic jam. His truck pushed that car under the trailer of another truck. Three of the four people in that car died. The flatbed then overturned and spilled bricks onto an SUV, killing the driver of that vehicle.
Prosecutors are deciding whether or not to press charges against the driver of the flatbed truck.
According to New Jersey police figures, deaths involving tractor trailers rose 97 percent over four years. In 2001 there were 34 such deaths. That number rose to 67 in 2005. The New Jersey Turnpike Authority says that truck accidents on the Turnpike rose 2.9 percent between 2003 and 2004.
In Wisconsin, the State Patrol's Bureau of Transportation Safety said that there were 7,762 crashes involving trucks in 2005, the lowest number in 16 years. However, there were still 94 people killed in those accidents.
The Transportation Department says that in 2004, 5,190 people died in accidents involving commercial vehicles and passenger trucks. Although that number has remained somewhat consistent, some experts argue that because the trucks are heavier, accidents with passenger vehicles are more severe than they used to be.
The American Trucking Association predicts that by 2016 there will be 3.7 million trucks on American roads. Currently, that number sits at 2.7 million.
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Remember that large trucks need more room to make turns. Give a truck driver space to make those turns. Also remember that large trucks have enormous blind spots. A truck driver may not be able to see a passenger vehicle.
The best thing people can do when sharing the road with large trucks is to be courteous. Give the truck driver lots of space. In the end, if a passenger car collides with a large truck, the people in the passenger vehicle are at a much greater risk of serious injury.