Thanks to The South Carolina Commercial Driver’s License Manual, truckers are fully aware of the dangers of night driving, as I’ve written before.
The manual also gives explicit tips to avoid common night driving dangers that cause serious injuries—even fatal ones—and tractor-trailer accidents. Here’s what it says about addressing typical night driving problems that can cause crashes:
- Vision. Truckers should have their eyes checked regularly by an eye doctor. If they need contacts or glasses, they should wear them all the time—no exceptions!—even on short trips. If the trucker’s license requires corrective lenses, it’s illegal even to move a semi without them.
- Fatigued, tired, or drowsy driving. The manual reminds drivers that trying to “push on” through fatigue is a major cause of fatal accidents. The instruction here is plain and simple: if you’re tired, stop. Take a nap or call it a night. The manual provides the stark consequences of ignoring the warning: “If you don’t, you risk your life and the lives of others.”
- Low light. Big-rig truckers should drive more slowly in poor or confusing light, like when they’re confronted with lights from traffic, signs, and storefronts.
- Headlight limitations. Even with high beams, truckers can only see about 350 to 500 feet ahead. They’ve got to reduce speed to keep stopping distance within that, so they can stop within the range of their headlights. The manual warns, “Otherwise, by the time you see a hazard, you will not have time to stop.”
- Clean headlights and other warning lights. Keep lights clean and functional. Dirty headlights further reduce the ability to see in front of the huge truck, and makes it harder for other motorists to see the truck. Headlights should be checked for proper direction and adjustment by a qualified technician. Turn signals and brake lights should also be checked to be sure they’re in clean, working condition. The same holds true for reflectors and other markers on the tractor-trailer; these can make a crucial difference in whether a motorist sees the truck or causes unimaginable tragedy by plowing right under the trailer.
- Clean windshield and mirrors. Glare is an enemy of safety. Having a clean windshield—inside and out—helps prevent glare. Dirty mirrors can blot out traffic to the sides or rear.
And there’s one more key precaution before the journey starts: the manual reminds truckers to do a complete pre-trip inspection of their vehicles, as required by federal law. Those inspections include the brakes, and bad brakes cause an astounding number of tractor-trailer crashes. It’s more proof these inspections save lives.
Ignoring the Manual Endangers Us All
Overlooking any one of these precautions can cause a big-rig wreck with severe consequences to innocent people. If you get hurt by a tractor trailer at night, it may well be because a trucker failed to take steps he should have known to keep you safe. But trucking crashes are not the same as car accidents. Serious or even fatal injuries are more common when a truck is involved. It’s important for you to protect yourself and your rights to the maximum compensation possible, especially for both past and future medical bills.
If you have more questions about semi-trailer wrecks, check out our trucking page. You can also download our free report, which features a chapter on these crashes. You can always email or chat with us live right where you are. Also, our phone lines are open for a trucking accident attorney to answer your questions or even set up a free, no-obligation meeting to answer your questions and see what we can do to help.