a big truck is different from driving near a passenger car, but
many motorists don't change their behavior to adjust for the difference,
according to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
focused on driver errors, which account for more than half of
fatal car-truck crashes (54 percent).
common actions that get drivers of both cars and large trucks
into trouble include: Failure to keep in lane or running off the
road; failure to yield the right of way; driving too fast for
conditions or above speed limit; failure to obey signs and signals;
and driver inattention.
also confirmed earlier studies that the actions of car drivers
contribute more to fatal car-truck crashes than do the actions
don't recognize that trucks behave very differently from cars,
so they think trucks can stop on a dime and change lanes quickly,"
said J. Peter Kissinger, CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic
Safety. "In reality, trucks take a long time to stop and
cannot whip from lane to lane. As a result, a mistake near a truck
can have catastrophic consequences for a motorist. In fact, in
our study, 98 percent of the fatalities were car occupants."
suggests that drivers adopt the following strategies: Never change
lanes abruptly around a truck; slow down to let trucks have the
right of way; drive at a safe speed; stay alert to traffic signals
and road conditions; use turn signals; avoid driving alongside
or immediately behind a truck; and never cut in front of a truck,
especially when it may need to stop.
tragedies are completely preventable," Kissinger said. "When
car drivers understand how trucks are different, they can make
allowances for the big rigs' limitations. By adjusting their driving
style, motorists can safely and confidently share the road with
The study analyzed
nearly 46,000 fatal two-vehicle crashes recorded in the Fatality
Analysis Reporting System from 1995-1998. FARS is a national database
of all fatal vehicle crashes in the United States and is based on
police observations and investigators' findings. The AAA Foundation
for Traffic Safety study can be found at www.aaafoundation.org.