Big rigs and semi-trucks may be essential to the economy, but finding yourself driving alongside these vehicles can be a terrifying experience. Semis only make up about 4% of the total vehicles on the road, but when they collide with an average-sized vehicle, the results are often catastrophic.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, about 1 in every 10 highway deaths involves a large truck. While some accidents are unavoidable, several unique factors make large trucks a threat to other motorists on the road.

Trucker fatigue

Truck drivers have to work long, grueling hours to travel great distances and meet tight delivery deadlines. Although today there are laws in place that limit the number of hours truckers can drive per day for their safety, many will skip their rest breaks to stay on schedule. In one study, 13% of truck drivers were fatigued at the time of their crash.

Driving drunk

Driving under the influence isn’t exclusive to truck drivers, but unfortunately, many truckers do suffer from substance abuse. The prevalence of alcoholism in truck drivers could be due to loneliness or boredom on the job. Driving drunk slows down a person’s reaction time, impairs coordination and limits a driver’s ability to concentrate.  

Driving distracted

Truck drivers spend a good portion of their days driving, meaning there is a good chance they could be multitasking behind the wheel. Most people associate texting with distracted driving, but for truckers, distractions can come from their dispatch radio, GPS, eating while driving or listening to in-car entertainment. A staggering 71% of truck accidents occur when the driver is doing something other than driving.

Truckers face significant challenges each day on the job. The next time you find yourself sharing the road with a large truck, stay vigilant to signs of fatigue, impairment or distraction to avoid a deadly collision.