In the early morning hours of February 2012, two semitrailers travelling in opposite directions collided on Interstate 35 in Missouri. According to the Missouri Highway Patrol, one of the big rigs veered off the left side of the road, into the median and into the southbound lanes, where it struck the other semi truck.

Both trucks burst into flames. One driver died at the scene, and the other suffered moderate injuries. A passenger also suffered serious injuries and was flown to a Kansas City hospital.

It is especially tragic when professional truckers die behind the wheel, because most truck drivers are extremely safety conscious. Some Missouri truck accidents result from driver negligence, of course, but most can be blamed on drivers other than truckers.

Common Causes of Accidents

The most common causes of truck accidents involving passenger vehicles and large trucks is the passenger car driver’s ignorance of a big truck’s performance capabilities, including its limits on acceleration, braking and visibility.

Because truck drivers have limited visibility of the areas immediately behind and beside their trucks, passenger car drivers who suddenly change lanes or merge into traffic too quickly endanger the trucker, who has a limited ability to brake and maneuver such a large and heavy vehicle.

Misjudging a truck’s speed or breaking distance can also put drivers in danger. Passenger car drivers should never attempt to squeeze around semitrailers making right-hand turns, should avoid driving between two big trucks, and should always keep the truck’s speed in mind when making a left turn in front of an approaching truck.

Any collision involving a semitrailer can be disastrous. These are just a few tips to make coexistence between trucks and passenger cars safer. The best tip for drivers of both trucks and passenger cars is to keep their focus on driving and to maintain awareness of what is going on around their vehicles at all times.

Source: The Kansas City Star, “Truck driver killed in fiery head-on crash on I-35 identified,” Robert Cronkleton, Feb. 6, 2012.