A horrifying truck accident on I-70 in Lakewood made headlines on April 25. The resulting personal impacts and legal consequences will surely become clearer with time.
But the tragedy immediately drew attention to the dangers of passenger cars and large commercial trucks sharing the highways hour after hour across the United States.
Large, fully loaded commercial trucks weigh 20 to 25 times as much as a typical passenger car and can pack astonishing momentum at high speeds.
Consequently, the damage they can do in an accident even at low speeds can be disastrous. Fatalities and serious injuries are common in collisions between large trucks and cars.
Compared with large commercial trucks, passenger cars are very maneuverable and can easily stop, accelerate, take tight turns, and carry out split-second decisions. Cars also have much narrower blind spots. Given the limitations of larger vehicles, drivers should give them plenty of room.
Accidents involving commercial vehicles can be more complicated and dangerous given the loads they often carry. Death or serious injury can follow the dumping of cargo such as building materials and flammable or poisonous substances.
It is possible to make a difference in truck safety. The number of trucks on the road has doubled in 45 years, but fatal crashes involving them have gradually declined.
Still, truck driving is one of America’s most dangerous occupations.
Business decisions that might improve life for truckers may improve safety for people in cars as well.
More training, more realistic schedules and rewarding safety over speed and long hours may help make the highways safer for everyone.