Large trucks account for a significant number of crashes on the road each year, many of which can result in serious injury or death. This is why it's crucial to know how to safely share the road with these vehicles.
The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that over 100,000 large trucks were involved in crashes resulting in injury in 2021, and 5,788 people lost their lives in large-truck crashes during the same year. By taking steps to stay alert and aware of safety tips when driving alongside large trucks, you can help reduce the risk of accidents and keep yourself and others safe on the road.
1. Do Not Overestimate a Truck’s Ability to Stop
If you ever find yourself driving in front of a large truck, it's crucial to leave enough distance between the two vehicles. Trucks don't have the same stopping power as smaller vehicles, especially during wet or icy weather.
To put it in perspective, a typical large truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds while most passenger vehicles weigh about 3,000-4,000 pounds. A passenger vehicle traveling at 65 miles per hour would need 316 feet to come to a complete stop under ideal conditions (about the length of a football field).
On the other hand, a fully loaded truck weighing 80,000 pounds traveling at the same speed would require 525 feet to stop, nearly double the length it takes for a passenger vehicle to stop. As such, its important to exercise caution and leave space when driving in front of a truck.
2. Drive Predictably
When it comes to sharing the road with trucks, predictability is key to staying safe. By following the rules of the road such as driving according to the speeding limit, using your signals, etc., you can help truck drivers better predict your movements. This can reduce the risk of accidents caused by blind spots and unexpected maneuvers. By being aware of the challenges truck drivers face and adapting your driving accordingly, you can help create a safer environment for everyone on the road.
3. Stay Out of a Truck’s Blind Spots
When driving near trucks, make sure to stay out of their blind spots. Even though trucks are high off the ground and have bigger mirrors, they have many areas alongside them where your vehicle will not be visible.
These blind spot areas include the following:
- Directly in front of the truck
- Directly behind the truck
- Along the sides of the truck, especially on the right side
A good way to know if a truck driver can see you is if you can see their reflection in their side mirror. If you cannot see the truck driver’s reflection, you are in their blind spot. Regardless of this tip, you always want to avoid driving alongside a truck.
4. Choose Where You Pull Over on the Highway Carefully
If you ever find yourself needing to pull off the highway in between exits, make sure the entirety of your vehicle is within the shoulder area to avoid any potential accidents. If possible, try to find a wide shoulder or designated pull-off spot.
Taking these precautions is important because accidents can occur if a car is pulled over and swiped by a passing truck that swerves a little onto the shoulder. Overall, being aware and cautious can help protect your safety and the safety of other drivers on the road.
5. Pass Trucks Quickly
When you need to pass a truck on the highway, it's important to do so carefully and swiftly. Before passing, make sure you can see that there is enough space ahead to complete the pass. You don't want to linger in the lane beside a truck any longer than necessary, especially given the fact that you're in their blind spot.
In addition, tire blowouts and rollovers can occur. Overall, you want to avoid lingering alongside a truck. By following these tips, you can stay safe on the road and avoid potential hazards when passing large commercial vehicles.
6. Avoid Distracted Driving
Highway driving can become boring very quickly, which can lead to fatigue and distraction. However, it's important to remember that other drivers on the road are likely experiencing the same thing.
Therefore, it’s important plan your trip ahead of time and make sure you have music, audiobooks or podcasts queued up for entertainment. Avoid fiddling with your phone or radio while driving as this can be dangerous. Instead, wait until you reach a rest area or find a safe place to pull over if you need to change things up. Not only is distracted driving dangerous, but so is drowsy driving. Be sure to take a break if you begin to feel tired so that you don't find yourself in a dangerous situation.
7. Be Aware of Weather Conditions
Storms can be hazardous for all kinds of reasons, but one of the most dangerous is when you're behind the wheel. The wet roads, low visibility, and high winds can be a recipe for disaster. It's wise to have a plan in place before you hit the road, especially if you're in an area prone to sudden storms.
One option is to set up a weather app that will send you alerts if conditions are going to change drastically. However, even the most high-tech solutions can't always predict everything, so if you're caught in a storm unexpectedly, do your best to find a safe place to pull over and wait it out.
Contact Our Truck Attorneys
While you can do your best to drive safely on the roads, there may be other drivers who do not follow the same precautions. If you have been injured in a truck accident, it's important to remember that you have rights and deserve to be compensated for your damages.
At Bridges, Jillisky, Weller & Gullifer, LLC, our experienced truck accident attorneys are here to help you navigate the legal process and fight for the compensation you deserve. Let us help protect your rights during this difficult time.
Contact us today at (937) 403-9033 or reach out to us online to schedule a consultation.