Use your turn signals and make sure you leave ample space between you and a large truck to reduce your chances of being involved in an accident.
Regardless of where you live or how often you drive, you’ve probably shared the road with large commercial trucks. These vehicles are immense and powerful, and when they are involved in truck accidents, the results can include serious injury and wrongful death. A fully loaded semi may weigh about 80,000 pounds or more. A tractor-trailer might be hauling hazardous or heavy cargo that does more damage than the truck itself.
Big rigs can literally crush smaller vehicles.
However, trucks transport more than 70% of the nation’s freight. Without them, everything from life-saving medicine to machine parts to children’s toys would not be transported and delivered with such efficiency. We need to learn how to interact with large trucks so we can protect ourselves and our families.
There are a few steps you can take to reduce your chances of being involved in an accident with a commercial truck. Of course, every situation is different, and you will need to use your best judgment, but you can take these tips into account next time you take to the road and spot a large truck:
Depending on cargo load, it may take a truck nearly twice as long to come to a complete stop than a passenger vehicle like a sedan. For example, a typical passenger vehicle weighing 4,000 pounds and traveling at a speed of 65 mph would take 316 feet to stop. A semi-truck weighing 80,000 pounds and traveling at the same speed would take about 525 feet to come to a complete stop. That 209-foot difference is significant when you think about a truck trying to stop when traffic suddenly slows or halts. To avoid being rear-ended, never cut off a large truck. Do not make sudden maneuvers in front of a truck, where you could be at risk of being struck from behind if you slow suddenly or stop. It will take a large truck longer to slow down, so give them space to do so.
One might think truck drivers, being higher from the ground, have a better vantage point to watch the road. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. Trucks have large blind spots, areas where their operators cannot see other vehicles. Even with enhanced or additional mirrors, truckers simply cannot see everything around their trucks.
You can avoid getting stuck in a blind spot and sideswiped or hit by a large truck by:
- Keeping away from the sides of the truck
- Passing through blind spots as quickly and safely as possible
- Making sure you can see a truck’s mirrors
- Watching the brakes and turn signals when following behind a truck
Because of their blind spots, passing a large truck can be tricky. In addition to passing only when you have room to do so, it is best to pass on the truck’s left (the driver’s side). You are more visible there. Pass safely and quickly. The truck driver may not see you when they need to make a lane change and could strike your vehicle.
We’ve already mentioned that trucks are hard to maneuver. Use your turn signals and make sure you leave ample space between you and a large truck to reduce your chances of being involved in an accident.
Report Dangerous Drivers
If you’re on the road and you spot a driver (trucker or otherwise) driving erratically, speeding, or making aggressive maneuvers—endangering everyone on the road—give them ample space. If you have a passenger, have them take down the vehicle’s plate number and call 911. You can also memorize the make and model, pull over when it is safe to do so, and call 911 or your local police department to report the driver.
General Road Safety
When you put safety first, you can significantly reduce your chances of being involved in an accident with a large truck or any vehicle. In addition to following the tips listed above about sharing the road with large trucks, you should take other precautions. Never drink and drive, always keep your attention on the road and the task at hand, make sure your vehicle is adequately maintained, and obey traffic laws.