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Myths and realities of driving commercial trucks

At one time in America, truck drivers had a well-earned reputation as "knights of the road," for their propensity for helping stranded motorists and giving free rides to hitchhikers.

Those days have come and gone, partly because the sheer volume of traffic makes it unsafe for a big rig to pull over on the side of the road and also because of trucking companies insistence that their drivers adhere to impossible delivery schedules. But truckers can still abide by safety rules to keep them and others sharing the roads much safer.

Below, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shreds a few myths about driving the big rigs.

Myth: Truckers don't need seat belts.

Reality: If you are involved in an accident, your risk of a fatality is nearly 25 times more likely if you get thrown out of your rig. Seat belts increase survivability in accidents.

Myth: Talking on a cellphone is okay as long as it's hands-free.

Reality: Cellphone conversations while driving diminish brain activity needed for driving by 37 percent.

Myth: Trucks must abide by posted speed limits on curves and warning signs on exit and entrance ramps.

Reality: These speed limits are meant for smaller passenger vehicles. Large trucks with their much higher center of gravity have to go even slower to avoid roll over accident.

Myth: Drivers of passenger vehicles understand the importance of avoiding cruising in a big rig's "no zones" where they can't be seen.

Reality: Trucker can't rely on often oblivious drivers to stay away from their big rig's blind spots. Checking their mirrors every few seconds and before merging, changing lanes and turning is vital.

Myth: Truckers can use various distractions to stay awake on very little sleep.

Reality: Studies have shown that a driver who's been awake 18 hours has the diminished driving skills of a driver whose blood alcohol concentration is .08 percent.

Even though most truckers are very safety conscious, it's inevitable that some accidents will occur. If you are involved in a collision with a commercial truck driver, you may have a cause of action to seek compensation from the at-fault driver's insurance company.

Source: American Family Insurance, "Truck Driving Safety Tips," accessed April 08, 201

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