The Dangers of Driving Around Tractor Trailers
C. Mark Warren's Thoughts
Tractor trailers are everywhere! These big rig vehicles can be found driving up and down the highways and interstates all across Georgia and Tennessee. Local drivers have to face the scary fact of life here in Chattanooga, TN, because of the convergence of three major interstates; where we daily find ourselves sharing the road with these 10- ton tractor trailers.
It has been my experience that these tractor trailers usually drive too fast for conditions. Tractor trailer drivers have a bad reputation for driving too fast and disregarding the rules and laws that are in place to protect other motorists. I often hope and pray that these vehicles are only being operated by professional truck drivers that keep other motorists' safety in mind while they are on the road.
Here are some safety tips from the attorneys at Warren & Griffin that will hopefully help ensure that you and your family are never involved in a wreck with a tractor trailer:
- Beware of blind spots. Tractor trailers have very large blind spots due to the long extended trailer usually attached to the vehicle. C. Mark Warren likes to call these areas the “no zones.” The "no zones" are located at the direct rear of the trailer, the sides of the trailer, and the connecting point between the truck and the trailer. A good rule of thumb to remember is that if you cannot see the truck driver's face in the truck’s side mirrors, the driver cannot see you or your vehicle.
- Do not change lanes abruptly. Always try to make smooth and conscious movements when driving near a tractor trailer. Any sudden or jerky movements of your vehicle could be caught in the truck driver’s peripherial vision and can cause the driver to jerk the steering wheel or to respond unpredictably.
- Avoid getting squeezed. While your vehicle is stopped at an intersection, always be aware that tractor trailers can make very wide turns. Always remember to allow the truck and trailer extra room to avoid getting caught in the driver’s blind spot.
- Keep a safe distance. Due to the extended length of a tractor trailer, the driver cannot see directly behind the vehicle like we can in a normal car. Always maintain a following distance of 20-25 car lengths (200+ feet) when you are behind any tractor trailer. This will allow the driver of the tractor trailer to see your vehicle in his side mirrors and will also allow you a safe stopping distance, should the tractor trailer have to abruptly break or stop.
- Drive within the speed limit. Although this is always an important tip to driving safely, driving at a safe speed is key to driving defensively around tractor trailers. The tractor trailer drivers need time to see your vehicle approaching and to see your turn signals when passing.
- Always use turn signals when passing. Well-trained tractor trailer drivers are taught to always observe their surrounding and the intentions of other cars on the roadway. Using your turn signals will give the tractor trailer every available indicator of your intentions.
- Adjust driving speed to climate conditions. Rain, snow and high winds can make driving behind a tractor trailer more hazardous. During inclimate weather, you should always reduce your speed and allow more distance between your car and the tractor trailer to maximize the space needed for braking.
- Allow more space when driving uphill. If you are driving behind a tractor trailer on an inclined road or up a mountain, you should always allow more space between you and the tractor trailer. This is in case the tractor trailer driver begins struggling to shift gears and the truck starts to drift backwards, you will have plenty of room to notice this occuring and to stop your vehicle in a safe place.
- Avoid road rage. If you feel that a tractor trailer driver is acting too aggressively, speeding, or is driving in an unsafe manner, do not react with road rage. Road rage helps no one and it only increases the probability of a wreck. A much more effective strategy would be to notify 911 of the tractor trailer's dangerous driving or call the "How Is My Driving?" hotline located on the rear panel of many commercial vehicles.
Have You or a Family Member Been Injured by a Dangerous Tractor Trailer Driver?
C Mark Warren is a founding Partner of Warren & Griffin, a local lawfirm headquartered in Chattanooga, TN and specializing in personal injury and car wreck cases. If you or a family member have been hurt in a wreck involving a tractor trailer, feel free to email C. Mark Warren at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call our office at (423) 634-HURT (4878) and ask to speak with C. Mark Warren. Our attorneys will be happy to answer any legal questions you may have and help you determine if you qualify to receive compensation from a dangerous tractor trailer driver or his/her employing company.