How Truck Drivers Differ From Regular Drivers in DC

With driving a truck, you have a much larger vehicle with multiple axles. Many times there are two parts to the vehicle, which includes the tractor and the trailer. Given all those circumstances, impact varies based on size, length, mass, weight, such that there are different centers of gravity. There is the fact that the truck has pivot points between the tractor and the trailer. Trucks drive with great frequency on the roadways and high speed roadways, so many issues come into play in terms of maneuverability, responsiveness, and ability to stop, which takes longer due to its size and weight. If there is cargo involved, then that’s an additional factor in terms of balance. Cargo ships and surges, affect control of the vehicle when accelerating, braking, turning or responding to developing conditions on the roadways. If you have been involved in an accident with a commercial truck, contact a DC truck accident lawyer right away.

Why Truck Driving Can Lead to Accidents

There are many reasons why driving a large commercial vehicle in DC may lead to an accident, some of which are discussed in detail below.

Size of Trucks

Given the size of commercial vehicles, they do not have a short turning radius. Typically, they have a fairly large turning radius. As such, the truck driver has to be very careful to allow proper distance and space while turning because many times they are going to be outside the lane of travel into the other side or in the way of oncoming traffic lanes. Truck drivers in DC must pay close  attention to the traffic conditions on the roadway to maintain a safe turn.

Given the size of trucks, there are typically no rearview mirrors because of the trailer attached, so truck drivers have to rely on side view mirrors. Reverse executing or operating the tractor-trailer in reverse poses its own safety risks. There are blind spots created by the size of the vehicle and how high it sits off the roadway. Due to the length of the vehicle relative to the size and height of the other vehicles on the roadway, the driver has to be cognizant of distinct safety issues.

Driver Fatigue

Driver fatigue is a very common cause of tractor-trailer crashes because drivers are required to operate and drive their routes for long distances with deadlines. That is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act has very specific requirements for truck drivers to take breaks to try to avoid fatigue. When truck drivers are fatigued, the likelihood that they have a slower reaction time while on the road increases, thereby increasing the likelihood they put others on the road at risk. There are very specific hours and days that the regulations control. They mandate how many hours, how many breaks, and when the breaks have to occur in order to try to alleviate any major cause of truck crashes.


In terms of safety issues in regards to solid cargo, the securement of that cargo is very important, especially in pedestrian heavy areas like Washington, DC. Many times that cargo is very heavy and affects the operability of the commercial vehicle. If it is not secured properly, it can come loose and shift the weight, which affects operability. If it’s not secured properly, it can fall off the commercial vehicle on to the roadway and create a safety hazard.

As for liquid cargo, the liquid that shifts within the carrier also affects operability of the vehicle and it can actually lead to a rollover situation when not properly distributed. Truck drivers get very special training by getting a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Also, if they are with a company and are trained specifically by the company, the more hours on the road, and the more experience they have, the better. The more training they have and the different types of vehicles that they’ve operated assist in having a qualified, safe driver operating the commercial vehicle.

Training for Commercial Truck Drivers in DC

As part of the CDL, there is book learning and all of the regulations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act regulations are a part of that training. Any state regulations are part of the book training and then there is specific training for the operation of different types of vehicles, different weighted vehicles, or vehicles with different numbers of axles. Then there are the circumstances whereby the commercial trucking companies have regular training programs that they will put their new employees through in terms of operating the trucks that they need them to operate. While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety regulations form the basis of the rules and regulations, the specific rules and regulations that the companies themselves have created and implemented for their drivers are also included in the training. That also consists of hands-on operation of the commercial vehicles for which a DC commercial truck driver will be responsible.