Spring is in full swing across Alabama. The sun is bright, flowers are blooming, grass is growing and planning has begun for summer vacations. While there is obvious joy at seeing the end of a dismal winter season, warmer temperatures also mean more people traveling on already busy roadways, and an increased chance for truck accidents.

Even though semi-truck traffic remains fairly constant throughout the year, the spring and summer months bring with them a sharp uptick in the number of cars, light trucks, motorcycles and bicyclists hitting the road, all of which can fall victim to a catastrophic truck accident by a simple action - or inaction - of a trucker.

Given their extra weight, length, height and width, commercial trucks require much longer stopping times than smaller vehicles, and even a small overcorrection on the part of a truck driver can spell disaster for fellow motorists. That is why truckers should be vigilant about paying attention at all times, not being distracted by electronic gadgets (like handheld cellphones, texting, PDAs, mp3 players, tablets and laptop computers), driving while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol, speeding or driving recklessly.

As many good truck drivers are out there, though, there are still many who take unnecessary risks and cause accidents. In fact, according to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there are well over 100,000 large truck accidents annually, several thousand of them in Alabama. Truck accidents are more likely to cause injury to motor vehicle drivers and passengers, and more than 60,000 injuries are reported annually from commercial truck crashes.

Sharing the road

Clearly, it is important that truck drivers maintain their vehicles properly, exercise caution, pay attention and travel at a reasonable rate of speed to avoid accidents. Even so, there are some actions that motor vehicle drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians can take to help themselves stay safer around commercial trucks on Alabama's urban and rural roadways:

  • Maintain a steady speed when traveling alongside or in front of a large truck - getting in front of a truck and suddenly braking or decelerating could easily lead to a rear-end collision
  • When walking, follow traffic control signals carefully, only crossing when appropriate and staying inside the crosswalk if one is available - given their high seat position, it might be difficult for a trucker to see a lone pedestrian who crosses against the light or darts out in traffic
  • Don't weave in and out of lanes around large trucks - their vehicles have multiple blind spots, so you want to remain as visible as possible
  • Keep a respectable following distance behind commercial vehicles
  • Use turn signals to alert truckers of lane changes or turns
  • Turn on headlights at dusk to make yourself more visible
  • If on a bicycle or motorcycle, wear a helmet and some form or reflective clothing

In spite of your best efforts and hard work to stay safe, it is still possible that you could be involved in a collision with a commercial vehicle. If you have been injured in a truck accident, you have rights. Consult an experienced truck accident attorney in your area to learn more about those legal rights and options you may have to hold the parties responsible for your injuries accountable.