Safety TipsThe Rural Road Menace: How Narrow Lanes and Sharp Curves Contribute to Truck Rollovers

May 30, 20240

Rural roads present unique hazards for truck drivers that can lead to catastrophic rollover accidents. With narrow lanes, sharp curves, and rough surfaces, rural roads require extra caution and skill to navigate safely in a large truck. However, when proper precautions aren’t taken, the results can be deadly.

Narrow Lanes

Many rural roads were designed and built decades ago, before large 18-wheelers became commonplace. As a result, lane widths are often very narrow, leaving little room for error. Standard highway lane widths are 12 feet, but rural roads can be as narrow as 9 or 10 feet across. This tight squeeze leaves little margin on either side of a truck, increasing the chances of running off the road or clipping roadside obstacles. Making matters worse, narrow shoulders provide no recovery room if a truck does stray over the fog line or center line.

Sharp Curves

Rural roads also tend to have much sharper curves than highways. While highways are designed with gentle bends, backcountry roads can turn at 90 degree angles with little banking or slope. Approaching these curves at too high a speed can cause a truck to skid or tip up on two wheels, leading to rollover accidents. The posted speed limit on a curve may be safe for a car, but dangerously fast for a fully loaded 18-wheeler.

Driver Errors

Many rollovers occur when truck drivers misjudge their ability to safely maneuver through narrow lanes or around sharp curves. Overconfidence, distraction, or unfamiliarity with the road can all contribute to these mistakes in judgment. Fatigue also plays a major role, as driving on rural roads requires the utmost focus and quick reflexes to avoid mishaps. Yet tired truckers pressed to meet delivery deadlines can make poor driving decisions on remote roads.

Mechanical Problems

Rural road conditions can also stress trucks and cause equipment failure. Hitting potholes or road debris can knock a truck’s alignment out of balance. Loose cargo can shift and destabilize the truck’s center of gravity. Blowouts are more common with the stones and branches littering rural roads. When a tire blows at high speed on a curve, it can be impossible to maintain control. Any mechanical failure makes rollover more likely if it occurs while navigating narrow lanes or turns.

Liability Issues

When a rollover crash does occur, liability determination can be complicated. The truck driver, trucking company, and road transportation department may all share in the blame. Lawyers must investigate which party was negligent and to what extent. For example, what policies did the trucking company have regarding route planning and rest breaks? Were there any mechanical deficiencies with the truck? And did the road design and conditions create an avoidable risk? Finding the answers to these questions is key.

Rural Road Safety Tips

While problematic, rollovers are avoidable with proper precautions. Trucking companies should equip trucks with lane departure warning systems, mandate reasonable driving hours, and ban cell phone use. Drivers should slow down well in advance of curves, avoid distraction, and plan stops to rest when needed. Transportation departments can improve signage of upcoming hazards and consider widening lanes and shoulders on the most dangerous rural roads. With smart policies and safe driving habits, the rural road menace can be contained.

Contact us today for a free consultation if you have been involved in a truck accident.

You can visit our office at 15 Broad St #800 Boston, MA 02109.

Call now for a free consultation on (617) 263-0860.

COVID-19 Notice – We remain here for you and can answer any questions or concerns you may have. Learn More »