During our October safety meeting, we had the opportunity to discuss 3 lane change accidents that occurred in the last several months. Following is a brief recap the discussion.
The easiest way to prevent a lane change accident is to simply not change lanes. While this is a very effective strategy, it is far from practical. Therefore, we have use other tools to reduce the chances of an accident. Notice that I said reduce and not eliminate. The fact is, we can only increase our odds of success when executing a lane change, we cannot eliminate all chance of an accident when changing lanes. This may seem like a strange statement from your safety director, but it is true. The only way to avoid a lane change accident is to never change lanes. Not very practical is it?
Whether we are driving a commercial motor vehicle or our personal vehicles, we must always consider the length of time required to complete a pass. Most people do not realize that it takes an unloaded tractor trailer over 1 mile to reach 65 mph from a complete stop and that it takes over 32 seconds to accelerate from 35 to 65 mph. If the other traffic is traveling over twice our speed and they are not paying attention to what they are doing, which is common, an accident is a likely result. In all car/truck accidents, the car is at fault 75% of the time. Depending on the scenario, it could take over a mile for the truck to execute a pass. Given this fact, is it really a good idea, when operating a car, to leave cruise control engaged in the hopes that truck can execute the pass? Probably not.
Every lane change increases the likelihood of an accident, no matter what you are driving. Remember that next time you feel the need to pass another vehicle. The seconds saved, could be lost due to an accident.
by Frank Molodecki, CDS