Trucking accidents in Knoxville and across the country are part of the reason more teenagers are losing their lives behind the wheel.
A new report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association indicates that for the first time in 8 years, teen driver deaths overall were increasing. For the first six months of last year compared to the first six months of 2010, there was an 11 percent increase in the number of teen drivers killed nationwide. That includes statistics analyzed from all 50 states, as well as Washington D.C.
While our Knoxville trucking accident attorneys understand the report doesn't specifically break down how many of those were due to accidents involving big rigs, based on previous research, it is safe to say crashes with large trucks were at least partially to blame.
In fact, the National Highway Safety Association reported that between 1975 and 2005, more than 7 percent of all those killed in large trucking accidents were aged 17 and under. Drivers aged 18 to 25 accounted for 17 percent of all trucking accident fatalities - a larger portion than any other age group.
The new report from the governor's association found that in a state-by-state examination of teen fatalities, driver fatalities for 16-year-olds increased by 16 percent, while driver fatalities for 17-year-olds is up by 17 percent. Overall, 19 states (including Tennessee) reported some decrease in fatalities, while 23 states reported a marked increase. Some states, including Florida, North Carolina and Texas, reported a skyrocketing increase.
Researchers pointed to the fact that the benefits of graduated driver's license programs, such as the one implemented in Tennessee in 2001, are beginning to level off.
While many fatal trucking accidents in Knoxville involve truck driver error (most commonly, failure to maintain proper lanes, speeding or distracted driving), it pays for teens to be educated in how to maneuver around these large vehicles.
The fact is that when a passenger vehicle is involved in a wreck with a big rig, there is an increased chance that the injuries will be more severe or result in death.
This underscores how critical it is for parents to have some discussion with their teen about how to drive safely around large trucks, as they don't operate under the same laws of physics as passenger vehicles.
The Geico Educational Foundation, an arm of the car insurance company, recently released an easy-to-read brochure that breaks down some of the ways teens can be sure to avoid a Knoxville trucking accident.
The brochure first goes over the basics of any safe driver: Don't speed, drive aggressively or allow yourself to be distracted by your friends or cell phone.
Secondly, it urges teens to avoid the trucker's blind spots. These cover pretty wide swaths of roadway around the truck, but the best rule to follow is to make sure you can see the trucker's mirrors. If you can't, the trucker can't see you.
Thirdly, if you plan to pass a large truck, make sure you can see the front of the rig in your rear view. Don't ever flash your brights at a trucker to signal that you plan to change lanes. This can be very confusing, as it sometimes signals a police cruiser is up ahead. Either way, simply use your turn signal.
Finally, don't stop suddenly in front of a trucker or swerve abruptly in front of him or her. Truck drivers aren't able to slow or stop as quickly as someone in an SUV or passenger car. It's better to give yourself plenty of space so this won't be an issue.
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