Canada: Commercial Vehicles: Share The Road And Save Lives

Last Updated: May 5 2017
Article by Michael J. Henry

The next time you're taking a family road trip and looking for creative ways to entertain the kids that force them to unglue their eyes from their cell phone screens, ask them to keep a tally of all the different kinds of vehicles they encounter. Cars? Easy to spot. Long haul trucks? They are bound to see lots of them too.

But what about the wide variety of other large commercial vehicles we share the road with? Postal and package vehicles, buses, tow trucks, food trucks, cranes, livestock carriers and recreational vehicles? The list goes on and on. Some types of vehicles might take a little more time to find, but they are certainly out there.

Unfortunately, the proportion of road accidents involving large commercial vehicles tends to be greater than their overall numbers would suggest. In this blog post, I explore some common types of accidents involving large commercial vehicles and offer some road safety tips to help keep you out of harm's way.

Common Commercial Vehicle Accidents

Although certain kinds of accidents can happen to all types of vehicles (head-on or rear-end collisions, t-bone accidents, or vehicle contact on passing), accidents involving large commercial vehicles can also involve airbrake failure, jackknifing and rollovers, uncoupled trailers and lost loads, tire blowouts and falling undercarriage parts.

Some other contributing factors of commercial vehicle accidents can include overloads, load shifts, unsecured loads, poor vehicle maintenance, improper driver skill level, failure to check blind spots, driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances, and speeding.

The sheer size of some of these vehicles often mean that vehicles involved in collisions or accidents involving them or their loose parts can cause serious personal injuries or fatalities, particularly to pedestrians and people driving smaller vehicles.

Why Do These Accidents Happen?

Large commercial vehicles are often operated by drivers doing shift work. In the case of long-haul vehicles, the drivers may need to make delivery deadlines that can cause stress and fatigue. Although there are rules and regulations in place to prevent these drivers from being on the road when they are over-tired or lacking in sleep, driver fatigue continues to contribute to accidents. Distracted driving is also a common cause of accidents involving these vehicles.

However, it's important to note that driver fatigue and driver distraction are not limited to the people operating these vehicles. In fact, statistics reveal that drivers of smaller vehicles are more likely to be found at fault in accidents with larger commercial vehicles for these and other reasons.

How Can You Stay Safe on The Road?

In addition to following the regular rules of the road, when you're sharing the road with a large commercial vehicle there are a number of ways to avoid accidents or minimize injuries if you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a collision with one.

  • Keep a safe distance away – Large vehicles take longer to stop and are more difficult to steer and turn. By keeping a good distance in front or behind these vehicles, especially in poor driving conditions, you reduce the risk of a collision.
  • Stay out of the pack – On highways vehicles often become grouped together. This can be dangerous if an accident subsequently leads to a pile up, particularly when larger vehicles are involved.
  • Pass safely – Passing on two lane highways should be avoided if possible until there is an opportunity to use a passing lane. When passing large vehicles, remember these drivers often have bigger blind spots. Signal early, avoid staying in a larger commercial vehicle's blind spot, and do not cut these vehicles off when returning to the lane they are travelling in.

Accidents Do Happen

Although safe and attentive driving will help reduce your risk of being involved in an accident, it won't eliminate your risk altogether. If you've been injured as the result of an accident with a large commercial vehicle in Ontario or elsewhere, and have questions about your eligibility for Statutory Accident Benefits, or whether you can file a lawsuit for damages and compensation for your pain, suffering, and losses due to another driver's actions, I'd welcome the opportunity to speak with you.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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