How To Share The Road With Big Trucks
Since the beginning of the current US economic expansion in 2009, large trucks have made up an increasing portion of the vehicles traveling on American roads. In 2015 large trucks were involved in:
- 342,000 accidents resulting in property damage;
- 87,000 accidents resulting in injuries; and
- 4,050 accidents resulting in fatalities.
When passenger cars have accidents with large trucks, the occupants of the cars suffer the vast majority of the injuries and fatalities. The reasons are pretty obvious – tractor-trailers typically weigh 20-30 times more than cars and their height and ground clearance make them even more dangerous when they collide with cars.
So, what can a safety conscious car driver do to reduce the chances of getting into an accident with a large truck?
Know the Truck’s Limitations
Driving a tractor-trailer is not like driving a car. There are the fundamental differences that impact how you should drive on the road with trucks:
- Blind Spots: Trucks have big blind spots (“no-zones”) all around them. The major no-zones are directly in front of the truck, directly in back and on the right side. Because you disappear from the driver’s view when driving in a no-zone, spending an extended period of time in a no-zone makes an accident more likely to occur. Remember that if you can’t see the driver’s face in the truck’s side mirror, the driver probably can’t see your car.
- Stopping Takes Longer: The truck’s size and weight means that it can’t stop as quickly as a car.
- Reactions Are Slower: Unlike a car, trucks can’t merge or switch lanes quickly because of their size.
- Wind Reduces Control: Lots of vertical surface area means that high winds can push a truck around. In windy conditions, you should assume that a truck’s driver will have more difficulty maintaining the truck’s location.
- Turns Are Wide: Big trucks need more room to make turns – especially right turns.
Pass Trucks Safely
Always pass a truck on its left side — the blind spot is smaller on this side — and maintain a steady speed as you zip by.
Give Trucks Room
You need to maintain a safe following distance between your car and the truck so that you have time to react to events – a sudden stop, a wide turn, a tire blowout or a rollover caused by wind to name a few. A gap of at least four seconds between you and the truck should give you enough time.
Space between you and truck will also help you in bad weather. Tractor-trailers spray water, snow and mud on the vehicles that surround them so you want to keep your distance so that your windshield stays clear.
Pay Attention to the Trucks
Remember that you can maneuver quickly in your car but the truck can’t. Reacting in time to an unexpected truck event – like a sudden lane change or stop – requires you to be aware and alert at all times. When sharing a highway with trucks pay attention and avoid distractions.
About Levine Law
The Colorado Springs truck accident attorneys at Levine Law have 20+ years of experience representing clients injured in accidents with large trucks. Our goal is to make sure that you are fully compensated for your injuries and our no/win, no/fee policy means that you pay nothing to Levine Law unless you receive compensation.