Truck accidents can be extremely devastating. The sheer size of tractor-trailers dictates that any collision they may be involved in can quickly turn catastrophic. The question then becomes, how can one successfully avoid being involved in an accident with a truck?
Unfortunately, there is no sure-fire way to avoid an accident with a big rig. However, practicing good habits can function to reduce one’s risk of being involved in an unwanted accident with a truck. Here are some tips to avoid being in an accident with a tractor-trailer:
1. Be Aware of Blind Spots
Large trucks have blind spots, sometimes referred to as “no zones”. As the name would suggest, you never want to be stuck in these areas. Trucking companies continually try to minimize the size of these “no zones”, but, nevertheless, they persist.
In regar to these zones, there exists a general rule of thumb to go by; if you cannot see the driver of the truck in their mirrors, they cannot see you. Semi-trucks can weigh in excess of 40 tons and are frequently 20-30 times larger than a regular vehicle; it is wise to exercise extreme caution when driving alongside trucks.
2. Do Not Change Lanes Abruptly
Sudden movements in a truck driver’s peripheral vision can cause them to react unpredictably. It is best to be overly cautious when approaching and passing a truck.
Above all, never pass a truck in the right-hand lane. If a big rig has found themselves in the left-hand lane, there is a good chance that they will be looking to move back over to the right as soon as possible. It is better to wait until the truck moves over so that you can pass them on the left, than to try and pass them on the right.
3. Avoid Getting Squeezed
Avoid, at all costs, driving between trucks. Additionally, be cognizant of the wide area required for a truck to successfully complete a turn. It is best to practice a philosophy of avoiding any close proximity driving with trucks in any scenario.
4. Keep a Safe Distance
It is recommended that one should maintain a distance of 20-25 car lengths behind tractor trailers. At low speeds and on clear roads it is ok to move closer to 20. When traveling at higher speeds, and in any adverse conditions, one should maintain a strict 25+ car length cushion behind trucks.
It can be hard to visualize a distance in terms of car lengths- if you feel too close, you probably are.
5. Drive Within the Speed Limit
Speed limits and defensive driving go hand-in-hand. The limit posted is there for a reason. If you drive too fast, you may not have adequate time to respond should a hazard appear on the road ahead of you.
Just as driving too quickly can be dangerous, so too can driving too slowly. It is best to stay within a 10-mph range below the speed limit, and never drive above the speed limit.
6. Always Use Your Signals
Always be clear and deliberate in your lane changes. Use your signals and be patient. Changing lanes should not be aggressive and should resemble a merge onto a highway or interstate.
Turning on a blinker is not sufficient to secure safe passage into an adjacent lane. It is your responsibility to give the drivers around you a chance to notice your signals, and it is also your responsibility to wait for an opening in the lane of destination before initiating the lane change.
7. Adjust Your Driving Speed to the Roadway Conditions
Hazardous roadway conditions should impact the manner in which you drive, for it certainly impacts your ability to drive. That is to say, your car does not respond to your intentions in adverse conditions as well as it would on a sunny and clear summer day.
It is also important to realize that as much as adverse conditions impact regular cars, they impact semi-trucks all the more. Be aware of this and give big-rigs the space they need to operate safely.
8. Give Trucks a Wide Berth Uphill
Traveling on hills can be dangerous for trucks, both uphill and downhill. The dangers of a truck coming downhill are clear and evident- anyone who has ever driven on an interstate or highway has most likely seen a runaway ramp.
However, one needs to be cognizant of their proximity to trucks going uphill as well. There is always the potential that a heavy truck travelling uphill will have difficulty changing gears and may stall, or even begin to drift backwards. Stay a safe distance behind trucks on hills and consider changing lanes if possible.
9. Avoid Road Rage
Do not match aggression for aggression. If you view another vehicle being driven with negligence and irresponsibility, keep a safe distance. Road rage will only increase the likelihood of an accident.
Have you or someone you know been involved in a truck accident?
When operating a vehicle, one should maintain the highest degrees of vigilance, responsibility, patience, and caution. Defensive driving is the key to avoiding all kinds of accidents.
If you or someone that you know has been in an accident involving a truck, Warren & Griffin can help. Call us: