You don’t need to consult an economist to know that most of the goods in the U.S. are moved by truck. In fact, according to American Trucking Associations, close to 71 percent of all the freight tonnage in America goes on trucks, which are driven by more than 3.5 million truck drivers. It’s no wonder, then, that the incidence of truck accidents are on the rise and that drivers of passenger cars must share the road with an increasing number of trucks.
A collision with a truck, due to its large size and heavy weight, can be more destructive than a similar collision with a smaller, lighter vehicle. That’s why it’s important to be vigilant and maintain safe driving habits when sharing roads and highways with trucks.
Here are some tips for safely sharing the road with large trucks:
Don’t drive in the truck driver’s blind spot. Spending even a few extra seconds in a blind spot can be dangerous. Slow down or move ahead to position yourself in a visible spot. Remember that if you can’t easily see the truck driver in his or her side mirror, the truck driver probably can’t see you.
Never cut off a truck in traffic. To understand why cutting off a large truck is so dangerous, consider this: Going 65 mph, your passenger car or small pickup needs approximately 300 feet to come to a complete stop once you realize you need to stop. By contrast, a semi truck needs more than 500 feet to do the same. Cars weigh about 5,000 pounds, but a semi may weight up to 16 times that, or 80,000 pounds. Pulling closely in front of a large truck or tractor-trailer puts you, your passengers, and the truck driver in serious danger.
Don’t follow too closely. Tailgating a large truck not only puts you squarely in a blind spot; it puts you in danger of being struck from behind and having your car pushed under the truck. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimated that of the more than 1,400 people in passenger vehicles who died in collisions with tractor-trailers, 238 died when their vehicles hit the rear of the trucks. Legislation for underride guards to help reduce these types of fatalities has been proposed, but is currently pending.
Allow room for turning. A tractor-trailer needs more space than a car to turn a corner. When you see a large truck with its turn signal flashing, be patient—don’t try to get around it or block its path.
Pass carefully. In its publication “Tips for Driving Safely Around Large Trucks or Buses,”
the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration advises drivers to pass safely by:
- Making sure you can see the truck driver in the mirror before passing.
- Turn on your signal, move into the left lane, and accelerate so that you can quickly and safely get past the truck or bus.
- Don’t pull back into the right lane until the truck is clearly visible in your rearview mirror and there is plenty of space between your vehicle and the truck.
- Avoid passing on a downgrade where trucks tend to pick up speed.
- Never pass a truck using the right-hand lane.
Give trucks room when they’re passing you. Slow down a bit and stay to the right when a truck moves left in order to pass you. Also, give large trucks ample room to merge in front of you when changing lanes or on ramps.
Contact us if you’ve been injured in a semi truck accident.
Our truck accident lawyers know from experience how a collision involving a truck can be a life-changing event. If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash with a truck, contact our truck accident attorneys for a free, no-obligation consultation to review your case. Call 904-251-1111 or 800-251-1111 today.