On any given day, 15 million trucks are registered to operate in the United States; two million of those are tractor trailers. Whether you keep to local roads, or spend most of your time hitting the highway, you’re bound to pass a few big vehicles every week. Except that large trucks have a large capacity to cause damage when they get into accidents! One person every 16 minutes is killed or injured in an accident involving a large, commercial truck.
How can you increase your odds of making it safely to your destination when driving around big trucks? The hard fact remains for all drivers that the only actions we have control over are our own; we can proactively drive as safely as possible and still not be able to control others on the road and variables, such as weather and road conditions! Given all that, here are six things you can do today to drive safer around big rig trucks!
1. Pay attention to tailgating
The larger the vehicle, the more force it carries. The faster it drives, the longer distance it will take for this vehicle to slow down. Add in variables like slippery roads, and tailgating can be a huge safety concern for drivers sharing the road with commercial trucks. The potential force alone from a truck blowing a tire and making an impact with your vehicle is enough to cause serious damage! As a rule of thumb, don’t drive directly behind a large truck; if you notice a large truck tailgating you, it may be a sign that you are driving too slowly for speed laws and road safety!
Experts say the best distance to drive behind a large truck is 20 to 25 car lengths; this is also commonly explained as maintaining a four-second following distance.
Wind pressure from trucks traveling at great speeds can be hazardous to smaller, more lightweight vehicles nearby. Keep your hands on the wheels at all times.
When driving at night near a truck, use your low beam headlights to avoid bright lights reflecting in the trucks large mirrors and impairing your vision.
2. Avoid the “no-zones” of blind spots.
All vehicles have blind spots. These are defined as the areas of the road surrounding the vehicle that can’t be seen when using the rear or side-view mirrors. Blind spots also pose a huge danger for drivers sharing the roadway with trucks. Established blind spots for large trucks are
- The area right behind the truck,
- The sides of the truck towards the front of the cab,
- The right door of the cab, and
- The front of the truck in the lane the truck is driving in and the lane directly to the right of the truck.
Remember, if you can’t see their mirrors, the truck can’t see you!
3. Don’t do a “fast lane change” near a truck
When driving a three-lane highway, don’t go from the far left lane all the way to the right lane, passing a truck in the front. More than likely, the truck will be unable to see you as you pass and your chances for a collision are dramatically increased! Also, don’t pass or overtake a truck on the right-hand side; this is an area with intense blind spots, and the truck will be unable to see you as you change lanes.
- It takes approximately 25 seconds to pass a large truck on the open road; once you begin to pass a truck, do not slow down. Maintain your swift speed and make the pass quickly.
- If you are overtaking or passing a truck at the top of a hill, keep in mind that trucks will speed up as they drive downhill; factor this in when determining your speed.
- Do not decelerate right after pulling in front of a truck and passing. Aim to keep approximately ten car lengths in front of the truck to avoid ending up in his blind spot and allowing distance for the truck to slow down if needed.
4. Don’t drive along the right side of a truck making a right turn
It is almost guaranteed this truck will not see you in its blind spot if you follow along with the right side of a truck as it makes a right-hand turn. Large trucks have a very large turning radius! The same applies for motorcyclists and bicyclists sharing the road. Attempting to slip past a truck while it makes a right-hand turn is a huge accident risk.
5. Don’t drive between two large trucks
The potential for danger when caught in the wind draft or blind spot of a single large, commercial vehicle is dangerous enough… but when caught between two? Avoid this at all costs! If you must pass two trucks, do so in the farthest left lane and as efficiently, quickly and as safe as the legal speed allow for.
6. Respond to the road
When driving near trucks, it is essential to pay attention to road conditions. Has a light mist fallen on the road and created slick surfaces? If so, for example, this will impact the brake time and distance for trucks. Is the sun so bright that it’s blinding? If it is, this can increase mirror glare and cause exaggerated blind spots for truck drivers. Road conditions directly impact road safety.
The following conditions can directly impact the driving safety of trucks on the road
- Blind curves;
- Turns that are poorly banked;
- A missing or not visible traffic signals;
- Landscaping and visual obstructions;
- Damaged, missing or unclear road signs;
- Uneven shoulders on the sides of roads; and
- Extreme light or darkness.
If a Big Rig Truck Causes an Accident, Your Driving Still “Counts”
According to the state of South Carolina, a person or entity may be up to 51 percent liable for an accident on the roadway and still receive damages and compensation. This is why the idea of driver liability is essential when determining who is at fault in an accident and what, if any, damages may be awarded. If you have been involved in an accident with a large truck or commercial vehicle, the experienced professionals at Green Law Firm can help you!
Trucking companies traditionally have large and aggressive lawyers working on their behalf. Their one job is to mitigate the amount of compensation due from the actions of an at-fault truck driver. Bill Green and the team at Green Law Firm will work diligently to show that you have as little liability as possible in causing the accident. The less liable you are for an accident, the more compensation you may be awarded for
- Medical bills,
- Lost wages, and
- Pain and suffering caused by your accident.
Contact us today at 888-800-2455 for a 100 percent risk-free assessment of your case! Your best interests are our number one priority.