It is not uncommon for motorists to get a little anxious when sharing the road with large trucks. Have you ever noticed that the mere sight of a large truck makes you clutch the wheel tighter? Well, you are not alone.
There are certain things – nine, to be exact – that you can do to reduce your chances of getting into a truck accident. But before we delve into the safety tips for driving near big trucks on the road, let’s make sure that you understand what makes trucks different from all other vehicles.
What Makes Large Trucks Different from Other Vehicles?
Large trucks pose unique dangers to all those on the road. The following factors make large trucks different – and more dangerous – than other vehicles:
- Blind spots. Large trucks tend to have a reduced field of vision, also known as blind spots. Blind spots are areas around a vehicle – in front, behind, and on the sides – where the truck driver’s vision is limited.
- Longer braking distance. A large truck’s braking or stopping distance is much longer compared to passenger vehicles due to its sheer size and weight.
- More space on the roadway. Because of their size, trucks take up lots of room on the road. This factor alone requires other motorists to keep a safe distance and give trucks plenty of room to maneuver safely.
- Wide turns. If you have ever seen a truck make a turn, you may have noticed that these vehicles need an additional lane of traffic to complete a turn safely. For this reason, when passing a truck, drivers should always make sure that the trucker is not preparing to make a turn or change lanes.
- Increased risk of fatigued driving. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) allows truck drivers to spend up to 11 hours per day behind the wheel. Most truckers are pushing themselves to the limit to earn more money, which is why they tend to have higher rates of driver fatigue compared to other motorists.
9 Safety Tips When Sharing the Road with Large Trucks
While all motorists, including truck drivers, have a duty to exercise due care when operating a motor vehicle, there are certain steps you can take to avoid a collision with a large truck:
- Always drive defensively. The importance of driving defensively cannot be overstated, especially when sharing the road with big trucks. Driving defensively means being vigilant on the road, controlling the speed of your vehicle, expecting the unexpected, and always being prepared to react to other drivers.
- Avoid lingering in blind spots. As mentioned earlier, blind spots around a large vehicle are areas around a truck that are not visible to the driver. The largest blind spot for a trucker is the right side of the vehicle. Other blind spots to avoid are the front of the cab and behind the trailer.
- Allow more space between the trailer and curb. When making a right turn, truck drivers tend to move away from the curb in order to execute the maneuver safely. That’s why other motorists must always give trucks plenty of space on the roadway.
- Keep a safe following distance. Tailgating a truck or failing to maintain a safe distance makes it more difficult to react in time to avoid a collision. Rear-end collisions, which are often caused by drivers’ inability to keep a safe following distance, are one of the most common types of semi-truck accidents.
- Always signal your intention to change lanes or make turns. Truck drivers need more time to react to other drivers stopping, turning, or changing lanes. For this reason, drivers should always use signals before executing any unexpected driving maneuvers.
- Know how to pass a truck. Typically, passenger cars travel faster than large trucks, which often requires them to pass trucks. However, passing a truck is not the same as passing a passenger vehicle. When passing a truck, you should always do it on their driver’s side because, as discussed above, the right side is the truck’s largest blind spot.
- Turn off or dim your bright lights. When passing or following a truck at night, always turn off or dim your bright lights because they can blind the truck driver when they reflect off the trucker’s large side mirrors.
- Avoid cutting a truck off. This one might seem obvious, yet you can still see drivers cutting large trucks off and causing preventable truck crashes. Since trucks have a much longer stopping distance, you must see the entire front of the truck cab in your rearview mirror before it is safe to merge in front of the truck.
- Avoid distractions while behind the wheel. While distractions are never a good thing while operating a motor vehicle, getting distracted can be particularly dangerous when driving near or around trucks. If you read our truck accident statistics, you know that distracted driving is one of the most common causes of truck accidents.
Follow these nine safe driving tips when sharing the road with large trucks. If a crash has already occurred, contact our Atlanta truck accident lawyer at The Graham Firm to determine liability in your situation. Call our offices at 404-526-9955 to receive a free consultation.