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Crash risks unique to large trucks

Driving a tractor trailer in Denver, Colorado, requires a specific set of skills, and before a person can acquire a commercial driver’s license, there is education that must be completed. This includes gaining both knowledge and hands-on experience. Even with the extra requirements, the number of fatalities in truck crashes continues to be high. The most recent statistics provided by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration show that 3,903 people were killed in truck accidents in 2014. Of these, 2,857 were occupants of passenger vehicles. points out that drivers must be able to compensate for the very different reactions required from tractor trailers when they are fully loaded versus when they are empty. For example, the strong brakes necessary to stop a trailer filled to capacity are not as effective when the load is light, and the lack of traction on the empty trailer can cause it to jackknife more easily. Regardless of load size, operators who do not allow adequate distance between the truck and the next vehicle put everyone around them in danger.

Although it is more difficult to bring an empty trailer to a stop, a heavier load presents a much higher rollover hazard. Sudden turns or lane changes are likely to throw the center of gravity off balance, and this can easily lead to tipping. Loads that are not centered increase the risk even more. In double and triple configurations, the likelihood of tipping is higher for the second or third trailer, respectively. Wide turns, gentle steering and early braking can counter the hazards that are inherent to tractor trailers.

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