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Fatal truck accidents are down, but safety challenges remain

First, the good news: fatal crashes involving large trucks have been decreasing in many states, including Kentucky. There were 63 fatal truck crashes in 2014, down from 110 in 2004, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Still, there's no doubt that that's 63 deaths too many. And the very nature of commercial trucks make them dangerous to share the road with, no matter how safely everyone drives.

It's unfortunately pretty clear who suffers the most in an accident between a car and a commercial truck. Simple physics makes the smaller vehicle (and its passengers) far more likely to be harmed in a collision than a large commercial truck 20 or 30 times its size.

Here are three other ways their size makes commercial trucks especially dangerous - and how drivers can stay safe.

1. Large trucks are harder to maneuver.

It's much harder for a driver to maneuver a commercial truck than a small car. This makes it harder for trucks to avoid obstacles, brake quickly or otherwise steer clear of a collision. Car drivers should give trucks plenty of room to maneuver, especially on curvy roads.

2. Tall trucks have higher centers of gravity.

The higher the truck, the higher its center of gravity - and the more prone it is to roll over. Truck drivers are aware of this and will drive more slowly on curves and exit ramps. Car drivers should anticipate this and slow down as well when driving behind trucks.

3. Trucks create their own winds.

Have you noticed that it sometimes feels harder to drive in a straight line while trying to pass a truck? That's because large trucks can create their own gusts of wind. Drivers should recognize this and not drive alongside a truck for longer than is necessary. Either speed up to pass if you can do so safely, or slow down and drive a safe distance behind the truck.

Both vehicle drivers and truck drivers have a responsibility to take care to avoid accidents. If you've been involved in a accident and believe a truck driver could be at fault, it's a good idea to talk to an attorney to find out whether you can receive compensation from the driver or trucking company.

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