Trucks are oversized, heavy, intimidating, and are often involved in accidents, but you can protect yourself when driving around large trucks when you remember to follow certain safety protocols.
It can be frustrating to be stuck behind a semi-truck that is driving slowly, and it can be equally upsetting to see one that is speeding or otherwise breaking the law but respecting their sheer size and potential for serious accidents is important. They need longer stopping times, the drivers are often fatigued, and there are other risk factors that can increase the likelihood of very serious and fatal crashes. DefensiveDriving.org reports that while there are more than 4,000 fatal crashes involving large trucks and buses every year, car drivers cause more than 70 percent of the accidents due to speeding, failing to stay in the correct lane, and improper following. What can you do to stay safe?
How Can I Drive Safely Near Big Trucks?
Commercial trucks have bigger mirrors than passengers for a very good reason: their blind spots are much larger than smaller vehicles, which means that truck drivers cannot see 30 feet behind and 20 feet in front of them. They can also not see one lane wide on their driver’s side (about half the length back down the trailer) and two lanes wide on the right side (this extends back as far as slightly behind the whole trailer). If you cannot see your vehicle in a truck’s mirrors, that driver will surely not be able to see you. Those large mirrors can also be affected by brighter headlights – if you are driving behind a large truck, do not use your high-beams. Be sure to keep them on the standard low-beam setting, otherwise you might blind that driver.
The second piece of advice is to never tailgate a large truck. Doing so at any time is always dangerous, but even more so in these circumstances. Besides the driver not being able to see your vehicle, large trucks attract debris that could slam into your car. Since they need longer stopping distances, tailgating could result in a serious rear-end collision, and there is also the possibility of the smaller vehicle sliding under the larger, taller one and getting crushed in an underride accident. The likelihood of your windshield and top of your vehicle getting damaged is increased in these kinds of crashes, so remember to stay at least 30 feet behind.
Those side blind spots mean that you should never drive right next to a truck, either. If you’re in the wrong place when they need to change lanes and they do so quickly, your life could be in jeopardy. In addition to that, the chances of getting sideswiped if the driver swerves unexpectedly or getting hit by debris are also considerable. When you need to pass, only do so on the left and use your turn signals. Put the blinker on several seconds before making your move, and do it quickly and safely, checking first for any other vehicles that might be in the other lane. Never, ever cut off a large truck, especially when driving at high speeds.
What Else Should I Know About Driving Safely Near Large Trucks?
It is also important to not break suddenly when you are driving near large trucks. It takes longer for them to stop, and if you are only a short distance away the driver might not be able to avoid hitting you. They also need more time and space to make turns, which are wider than with smaller vehicles. Give them enough distance and wait until they have completed their maneuvers before you start to move. It is harder for them to make turns from right lanes, so give them even more space in these circumstances.
Trucks and buses also need extra space and time to make wide turns carefully, so keep your distance and wait for these large vehicles to finish turning before continuing your journey. Pay close attention when trucks and buses are turning right, as they may not be able to easily turn from the right lane and may initially move left to create enough turning space. The main things to remember with these large trucks is to give them extra room, extra time and to remain patient. Not all these drivers follow the law or safety rules, but since you could be the one who gets more injured in a large truck vs. smaller vehicle accident, staying calm and focused is the best advice of all.
A Few More Safety Tips
Texting and talking while driving are the norm for many drivers, and other kinds of distractions also take one’s eyes away from the road. If you see that a truck is swerving, going too slow, speeding, or otherwise exhibiting dangerous maneuvers, you will want to stay as far away as possible; pulling over somewhere safe and calling 611 to report is sometimes warranted. Avoiding distractions behind the wheel is important for all drivers though, so put your phone on do not disturb and limit eating, drinking, engaging too much with passengers and pets, and do not drive while fatigued or under the influence.
Large trucks are certainly found on smaller roads but are more commonly seen on highways and other major routes. Driving speeds are higher, and the highways are often used by people taking long drives and going on vacations. It is vital to take breaks when making long trips, as fatigued driving can produce the same symptoms as driving under the influence. Make sure that you are well rested and plan out your route in advance. Buckle up every time you drive and schedule a maintenance for your car or do a check-up on your own. No one wants to break down on a trip and pulling over into the shoulder on a busy highway can be exceptionally risky.
You have probably noticed that there are more large trucks on the roads at certain times of the year. One that stands out is the holidays, when trucking companies and their drivers are under pressure to deliver more goods than usual. The need to fulfill orders and deliver them on time can lead to an increase in the number of trucks that you see, and the companies and their drivers might be in more of a hurry than usual to complete the routes. There might be more speeding, and more fatigued and aggressive drivers as a result. It is a good idea to be aware of this (everyone else often feels the pressure this time of year, too), and to allow for even more room and extra patience.
Large 18-wheeler trucks can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, while the average passenger vehicle weighs in at just 4,000 pounds. When collisions happen, there really is no question as to which vehicle and drivers/passengers will experience the most damage. Most truck drivers are professionals who care about safety, and are well-trained and careful, but it is wisest to plan for any eventuality. No matter what kind of driver is behind the wheel of that tractor trailer, you can do yourself and your passengers a favor by giving large trucks the room they need and staying even farther away if you suspect bad driving behaviors.
A Dayton Truck Accident Lawyer from Wright & Schulte LLC Can Help You With a Car Accident Involving a Large Truck
Getting into a serious accident with an oversized truck can be traumatizing, life-changing and even fatal, and if something like this happened to you or someone you care about, help can be found. For a free consultation, contact an experienced, compassionate Dayton truck accident lawyer from Wright & Schulte LLC. We can offer legal guidance and will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. For a free consultation, complete our online form or call our Dayton, Ohio offices at 937-222-7477 or fill out our online form. We proudly serve clients in Dayton, Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, Centerville, Toledo, Youngstown, and Miamisburg.