Traveling on any U.S. highway increases your risk of being in a traffic accident. Trucks can be especially dangerous to drive around due to the long hours their drivers are on the road. Despite these risks, there are some defensive driving steps you can take to avoid a semi-truck accident.
Below, we discuss the inherent dangers of driving around trucks and some critical tips to help you avoid being involved in a crash with one of these commercial vehicles.
At Schmidt Kramer, we represent truck crash victims and other victims of negligence every day. We know firsthand the devastation that can result from a collision with a big rig, 18-wheeler or other commercial vehicle. If you get injured as the result of a truck driver’s negligence, you may be eligible to recover compensation for your damages.
Not sure if you have a truck accident case? Our Harrisburg truck accident lawyers can help determine your legal options in a free case review.
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Why Is It So Dangerous To Drive Around Semi-Trucks?
Semi-trucks and other commercial big rigs are dangerous for many reasons. Besides their size and weight, these vehicles cannot maneuver or stop as quickly as a smaller passenger vehicle.
Here are some other reasons it is dangerous to drive too close to semi-trucks:
Big rigs often carry heavy cargo, which puts more stress on tires and causes them to wear out faster. If these tires are not inspected and properly maintained, it could lead to a blowout. Passing vehicles could get hit by pieces of tire rubber, and at high speed, this could damage another vehicle or cause the driver to lose control.
Higher Center of Gravity
Semi-trucks have a high center of gravity. If their cargo is not loaded properly, they could easily roll over and smash smaller vehicles in their path. Truck rollover crashes could also occur if a driver is going too fast in bad weather or taking a turn too fast.
Semi-Trucks Take Longer to Stop
The weight and size of any commercial vehicle means it takes them more time and distance to stop. If you get in their path without warning, such as cutting in front of them, they may be unable to stop in time to avoid hitting your vehicle.
Bigger Blind Spots
Every vehicle has blind spot zones. Regardless of what type of vehicle you drive, you should know where the blind spots are on a semi-truck. If you are traveling in a commercial truck’s blind spot, the truck driver will not be able to see you. On a truck, those blind spots are to the front, the rear and both sides. The safest bet is to stay out of a semi-truck’s no-zones.
Drivers May Be Inexperienced
Not all truck drivers have a lot of experience. With the increasing shortage of drivers, the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration (FMSCA) now permits drivers who are just 18 years to drive a commercial vehicle. While there is training and multiple other steps to take, they still do not have enough driving experience under their belt.
What Seven Steps Could Help You To Avoid a Crash With a Semi-Truck?
Avoiding a crash with a semi-truck is crucial for passenger car drivers’ safety. Here are seven steps that can help you avoid such accidents:
1. Maintain an Adequate Following Distance
Keep a safe distance behind the semi-truck in front of you. A general guideline is to maintain a minimum following distance behind any commercial vehicle. That following distance should be approximately one car length for every 10 miles per hour you are going. This additional space gives you and the truck driver more time to react to an unexpected road emergency.
2. Stay Out of Blind Spots
Be aware of a semi-truck’s blind spots, also known as “No-Zones.” These areas include directly behind the truck, directly in front of it, and along the sides, especially on the right side. Make sure you can see the truck’s mirrors. The rule of thumb is this: if you cannot see the truck driver, then he or she cannot see you.
3. Use Your Signals and Lights
Always use your turn signals to indicate your intentions and use your headlights when necessary. Make sure truck drivers can anticipate your moves. Throwing on your turn signal at the last second will not be enough time for a truck driver to react. Sudden lane changes or braking can be dangerous when sharing the road with large trucks.
4. Pass Safely
When passing a semi-truck, do so quickly and safely. Maintain a consistent speed, signal your intentions, and move into the left lane when it is clear. Avoid passing on the right whenever possible.
5. Avoid Cutting in Front
After passing a semi-truck, do not try to cut in front of it too closely. Trucks require longer stopping distances, so allow plenty of space before you try to merge into a lane in front of a truck. Waiting until a truck passes and merging behind them is a much safer approach. Cutting in front of a truck too closely can limit the truck driver’s ability to slow the vehicle down to prevent hitting you.
6. Anticipate Wide Turns
Semi-trucks make wide turns, and their rear wheels can cut corners sharply. This can increase their risk of a rollover crash. Be cautious when a truck is turning, and never try to pass a turning truck on the inside (right) lane.
7. Be Patient and Predictable
One of the most critical aspects of driving safely around semi-trucks is predictability. In other words, be a patient and courteous driver, and avoid sudden, unpredictable moves. Keep in mind that trucks take longer to accelerate, brake and maneuver, so give them sufficient space and time.
Remember that defensive driving is key when sharing the road with 18-wheelers, big rigs and other larger vehicles. Remain alert and focused, prioritize safety and follow traffic laws to reduce the risk of accidents.
Call Our Law Offices if You Have Been Injured by a Negligent Truck Driver
Despite your best efforts, it may not always be possible to avoid a crash with a semi-truck. If this happens to you and you get injured, you may be eligible to seek significant compensation for your damages.
Your first thought should be to protect your health, so be sure to call 9-1-1 and seek immediate medical attention. Once your injuries are stabilized, you should seek legal help. Truck crashes are much different from collisions involving smaller vehicles, so you want an experienced attorney to protect your interests and fight for the maximum possible compensation on your behalf.
Call our law offices to discuss your situation today. We are here to help.
Experienced Lawyers. Proven Results (717) 727-2089