Commercial trucks are an important part of the economy, so you can spot them on roadways all over the United States. As a result, it’s important to know how to drive safely and appropriately while near a tractor-trailer. While all car accidents can have tragic outcomes, collisions with tractor-trailers are far more likely to be fatal or severe than crashes involving two passenger vehicles. Following these key safety tips can help you avoid disaster.
1. Stay Out of Their Blind Spots
Commercial trucks have extremely large blind spots, and it is crucial to move out of a truck’s blind spot as quickly as possible while passing. The worst place to be is on the truck’s passenger side, as the passenger side’s blind spot is significantly larger than the blind spot on the driver’s side. When passing, always pass on the driver’s side. Try to avoid staying directly next to a commercial truck, since it is easy to move into their blind spot without even knowing it.
2. Leave Plenty of Space
The larger a vehicle is, the more time it needs to slow down and stop to avoid an obstacle. If you are following a truck too closely and they experience a tire blowout, brake to avoid an obstacle, or lose control of the vehicle, you are at serious risk of being involved in an accident. Leave four seconds of distance between you and the truck at all times. Follow this rule even as they slow down to turn. Trucks often need two lanes to make wide turns.
3. Pass and Switch Lanes with Caution
Move carefully while passing a truck and switching lanes in front of it. If you do not leave enough space between your vehicle and the truck, they may not be able to stop quickly enough to avoid an accident. Avoid passing while going up or down hills, always pass on the driver’s side, and leave plenty of space when moving into the truck’s lane of travel.
4. Think Twice When Merging
Merging onto the highway is challenging when the road is full of commercial trucks and traffic is barely moving. You may be tempted to squeeze in wherever possible and force the drivers around you to let you in. However, doing this near a truck can have disastrous consequences. Even if a truck is moving very slowly in heavy traffic, you could cause an accident by merging directly in front of them if you do not leave enough space. Wait to merge until there is enough space for you to merge safely.
5. Use Extra Caution While Driving in Poor Weather
Snow, ice, wind, and fog are dangerous for those in passenger vehicles, but they are especially risky for those in large tractor-trailers. Truck drivers are often relegated to driving extremely slowly when visibility is low, as they may need even more time to stop if the weather is dangerous.
Tractor-trailers, by design, are much more difficult to handle and maneuver than smaller, lighter passenger vehicles. The difficulty increases with bad weather. If you must drive in bad weather, be exceedingly cautious around tractor-trailers. Remember that they need more time and space to slow down, so you should maintain as much distance as possible. Trucks that hit icy patches or high winds could roll over or spin out, and if that happens, you do not want to be in their path or be so close that you collide with them.
6. Be Patient
Drivers of passenger vehicles often get frustrated with commercial drivers. Road rage and aggressive driving are not the answer. If you put your passenger vehicle up against a truck twenty times its size, your vehicle is unlikely to win. Be patient and remember that trucks often have speed caps that may prevent them from traveling at the speed of traffic. Commercial drivers are not trying to aggravate you—they simply want to reach their destination safely, just like you. Remembering this and taking a deep breath can prevent unnecessary collisions.
What to Do If You Are Involved in a Trucking Accident
No matter how safely you drive, you could still be the victim of a trucking accident. The greatest cause of collisions is human error, and you could be entitled to compensation if the other driver is responsible for the crash. Find out what your options are by calling Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C. Call us at 800-574-4332 to discuss your case.