There is no doubt that driving near an 18-wheeler can be intimidating. Fully loaded tractor-trailers can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. When a behemoth of that size collides with a passenger car, it usually doesn’t bode well for the car’s occupants. While truck drivers are taught to keep their eyes out for other vehicles by always surveying surrounding lanes, inexperience, road conditions, fatigue, and other factors can and do affect their driving. It is important that drivers of cars and other small vehicles steer clear of the danger zones around large trucks.
Here are some important “rules of the road” to help you stay safe.
Avoid Blind Spots
The biggest blind spot for truck drivers is on the right. It extends from the side of the cab to the end of the trailer. There is also a blind spot over the driver’s left shoulder. When driving near a truck, stay ahead of or behind it to remain out of blind spots and stay visible to the truck’s driver. Assume that if you can’t see the driver in the truck’s side mirror, the driver can’t see you.
Always pass trucks on the left. Don’t linger next to the truck while passing. Accelerate out of the blind spot as quickly as possible. Trucks tend to pick up speed when heading downhill, so avoid trying to pass them on downgrades.
Give Them Space
Because of their enormous size and weight, big rigs cannot stop as quickly as passenger cars. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a fully loaded truck traveling in good conditions at highway speeds, requires almost two football fields to stop. Don’t cut it close when moving in front of a large truck. When moving in front of a truck, always ensure that the truck’s front bumper and headlights are visible in your rearview mirror before moving over.
There are several dangers when driving too closely to trucks. Trucks have blind spots in the back, so cars that follow too closely are not visible. Even when stopped, a truck may roll slightly back and hit a car that is too close behind it. Trucks also sit higher off the ground – a car that hits the back of a truck can end up underneath it. Trucks also kick up road debris that may hit vehicles that are following closely.
Watch for Wide Turns
Big rigs need a lot of space when turning on city streets. Never pass between the truck and the curb when the truck’s right turn blinker is on, even if the truck is in a middle lane. Trucks swing wide and need extra turning room. Vehicles that try to pass a turning truck may end up crushed by it.
According to the latest statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, deaths from crashes involving large trucks are rising. In 2016, more than 4,300 people were killed on our nation’s highways in accidents with trucks – an increase of 5.4% from 2015. Knowing where the danger zones are around large trucks and how to stay clear of them is important to stopping this upward trend.
If you’ve had the unfortunate experience of being in a large truck accident, you should know that you have legal options. Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law have helped clients across Texas get the compensation they deserve after being injured. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.