Sharing the Road with Tractor Trailers

Ever wonder what the chances are of surviving a collision with a tractor-trailer? A great many factors would determine the outcome. The most significant of these are the size, speed and weight of the tractor-trailer, the state of alertness of the truck driver, and the prevailing road and weather conditions.

By learning some defensive driving techniques to help circumvent the dangers these enormous vehicles pose, you can greatly increase your chances of staying safe and avoid an accident when you share the highway with them.

Keep Your Distance

Semi trucks with trailers can weigh over 80,000 pounds, or 25 to 40 times more than most cars. This incredible amount of weight means it is impossible for them to quickly come to a complete stop. Further, they cannot maneuver easily, so their ability to change lanes or avoid an obstruction on the highway is seriously impeded. Therefore, always keep a safe distance from any tractor-trailer. Never change lanes abruptly, or forget to use your turn signals near these large trucks.

When passing a semi truck, do it quickly to minimize the amount of time you will be driving alongside them. When passing a truck pulling a trailer, the trailer could swerve into your lane unexpectedly. Stay a safe distance behind the rig (a minimum four-second following distance) in case pieces of tire tread or any other parts of the truck fall off and into your path.

Assume the Truck Driver Cannot See You or Hear You

The driver of a truck cannot see you if you cannot see the driver in one of the truck’s rear view mirrors. Even then, assume the driver is tired or not paying attention.

Big rigs have large blind spots, called “no zones.” This means a truck driver many not see your vehicle when you are behind or to the side of the truck. Equally important is to pay close attention when the truck is signally to turn, and to its brake lights.

Never assume the truck driver will be able to hear your horn. A music system, radio, air conditioning, or typical truck noise may prevent the driver from hearing sounds outside of the truck cab.

When Stopping, Pull Way Off the Road

Truck drivers are conditioned to follow traffic. A driver who is tired and not paying attention could inadvertently drive directly into your vehicle without realizing you have stopped, particularly at night. If you cannot get your car far enough from away from the highway, it may be best to get out of your vehicle and stay as far away from it as possible. If visibility is poor due to smoke, fog, snow, rain or dust, or at night, turn your lights off so other drivers will not assume your vehicle is in motion on the highway.

Be Cautious During Adverse Road Conditions

When sharing the road with tractor-trailers, all precautionary measures become far more critical during adverse or unusual driving conditions. One reason is that big rigs are particularly susceptible to bad weather, detours, heavy traffic, construction zones, roads in need of repair, or atypical road conditions such as exit ramps, bridges, obstructions in the road, or sharp curves. Be extra cautious when driving near any tractor-trailer under these circumstances.

Understanding the challenges posed by tractor trailers will greatly increase your chances of keeping you and your family safe when you’re on the road.

Bicycle Safety: Learn to Bike Defensively

When Tom purchased a new bike, he decided to do some research about bicycle safety. He wanted to learn about the top causes of bicycle accidents.

Sometime later, while riding his new bicycle in the bike lane of a busy, downtown street, Tom noticed a vehicle approaching from a side street. He kept his attention focused on three things—traffic behind him, traffic ahead of him, and the vehicle approaching from the right. Tom assumed the driver was not going to come to a full stop at the stop sign, but instead would pull out in front of him.

In researching bicycle safety, Tom was prepared for what most people would consider the unthinkable. His newly acquired safety awareness prompted him to slow down and swerve to the right just in time to avoid a collision. But he didn’t escape completely unharmed–Tom’s bike slammed into a concrete block and he flew through the air, landing on his back.

Although the driver did as Tom had anticipated, he didn’t need an explanation from the driver to understand what had likely just happened.

By keeping an eye on the street behind him, Tom had noticed there was a break in traffic. Tom guessed the driver was impatient and might decide to make a right turn before another wave of traffic could cause him a delay, which is exactly what happened.

The driver accelerated and quickly pulled onto the street, running the stop sign and cutting off the approaching bicyclist.

Tucson Bicycle Accident Statistics

According to Tucson Bicycle Crash Database, the top intersections for bicycle accidents are Grant and Alvernon and Grant and Mountain. The intersections at 22nd Street and Kolb Road and First Avenue and Ft. Lowell Road are tied for second most dangerous for cyclists. The worst time of day for bicycle accidents are during rush hour, between the hours of 3 and 6 p.m.

TBCD reports that in Tucson, the following are the most common types of bicycle/vehicle collisions:

23% – Right-turning vehicle with a bicyclist riding on the wrong side of the street;

17% – Bicyclist and vehicle colliding in an intersection;

13.4% – Left-hook where a motorist makes a left turn at an intersection and does not see the approaching bicyclist;

12.6% – Right-hook where the motorist makes a right turn directly in front of the bicyclist.

To learn more about the most frequent types of bicycle accidents in Tucson, visit Tucson Bicycle Crash Database.

Pima County Bicycle and Pedestrian Program

The Pima County Bicycle and Pedestrian Program, launched to promote bicycle use and safety, offers free bicycle training, support and equipment to local residents.

During November and December the program will be offering free bicycle classes:

UA Area Bike Ride                          Nov 9 and Dec 1

Get Back on Your Bike                   Nov 14 and Dec 19

Mountain Bike Classes                  Nov 7

Traffic Skills 101                              Two-part classes starting Nov 10

Traffic Skills 101 for Women          Dec 10 and Dec 12

To help people who are new to bicycling or need a refresher to become more confident bike riders, the Bike Buddy Program offers one-on-one support and training with experienced bicycle instructors.

For more information or to sign up for the free bicycle classes or the Bike Buddy program, call 520-724-2453.



Hollingsworth Kelly Wins $3.5 Million Verdict in Child Abuse Case

The father of a fatally abused toddler was awarded $3.5 million in Santa Cruz County after a jury found the child’s maternal grandfather, step-grandmother, and biological mother negligently contributed to his death. The father was represented by Tucson personal injury attorneys Louis Hollingsworth and Michael Kelly.

The defendant grandfather, a practicing physician in Nogales, Sonora, was sued for his participation in negligently directing the child’s healthcare into Mexico, where doctors who examined him were personal friends or acquaintances of his, and who did not make any contemporaneous medical reports of the consultations.

Plaintiff, a young father, and his girlfriend had broken up in August 2010, and she and the couple’s 18-month-old son moved in with her father and his wife, who lived in Rio Rico, Arizona. Three months later around Thanksgiving, the child began to suffer suspicious injuries, including a subgaleal hematoma behind the right ear and a black eye.

In January 2011, the child suffered a suspicious horizontal cut of the left wrist, which the defendant grandfather bandaged. By early February 2011 the child had suffered a spiral fracture of the left tibia, suspicious for child abuse. Shortly after this injury, Plaintiff father called CPS, initiating an investigation which resulted in a finding of no abuse.

Soon after, the mother moved with the child to Mexico with her new boyfriend. After suffering additional injuries, including a broken right tibia and a refracturing of his left tibia, on April 20, 2011, the child suffered fatal injuries to the skull. Evidence suggests the mother’s new boyfriend may have been responsible for the injuries.

“Our theory of the case involved the grandfather’s statutory duty to report suspected child abuse based on the fact that he rendered treatment to the child, and the fact that the child was living under his care,” said Mr. Hollingsworth. “These factors required reporting of suspicious injury to CPS or law enforcement.”

The jury found the doctor to be 60 percent liable, his wife, a paid caregiver of the child, was found 30 percent liable, and the mother of the child was found 10 percent liable. No liability was found against the abuser boyfriend, and in fact no evidence was presented of any wrongdoing on his part.

The mother of the child and the boyfriend are serving prison sentences in Nogales, Sonora.