Did you know there are 15.5 million trucks* on the road in the United States? With nearly 15 percent of those being semis, big rigs, 18-wheelers or tractor trailers, commercial trucks are an essential part of our economy, transporting materials and goods from coast to coast each year (*according to the American Trucking Association and the U.S. Department of Transportation [USDOT]).
While thankfully most trips completed by truckers are safe and uneventful, when a truck accident does happen, it can be disastrous due to the sheer size, weight and momentum of the truck. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation estimates 7,000 heavy truck accidents occur each year with 140 of them being fatal.
While there are many causes of truck accidents including fatigue and distracted driving, there are ways to drive defensively to reduce the risk. The accident attorneys at Dale E. Anstine specialize in truck accident cases and offer the following tips when sharing the road with commercial trucks:
- Avoid the Blind Spot
- Keep Your Distance
- Anticipate the Wide Turn
- Use Caution When Passing
- Give Clear Signals
Avoid the Blind Spot
Some drivers assume truckers can see more of the road because they sit higher off the ground than other vehicles. However, the fact is, truck drivers have more blind spots than personal vehicle drivers. The general rule to follow is if you cannot see a truck driver’s mirrors, they cannot see your vehicle.
When you are in the blind spot, you are at a greater risk of an accident, particularly if a driver must change lanes or suddenly needs to stop or change directions. That’s why it’s critical to be aware of all blind spots (not just your own) and avoid them when traveling near a truck.
Keep Your Distance
In addition to avoiding blind spots, remember to keep a safe distance from trucks. Tractor trailers can weigh as much as 33,000 pounds; therefore, they can’t maneuver in the same manner as a personal vehicle. Trucks need the distance of almost two football fields to come to a stop, so give them plenty of room. In addition, it is important to maintain a following distance of at least four seconds when traveling behind a trailer tractor. If their tire were to blow or they run over debris on the road, this material could fly back and hit your windshield leading to potential injuries and vehicle damage.
Anticipate the Wide Turn
You’ve probably seen trucks making turns at intersections or lights where a passenger vehicle in the same intersection must put their car in reverse to avoid a collision. So, it should come as no surprise that trucks have a much wider turning radius than other vehicles. Trucks swing wide and need extra room to make the turn. Never try to cut in or get between a truck and the curb. Be patient and give the truck time to make the turn.
Use Caution When Passing
When passing commercial trucks, it is critical to use caution. Large trucks need additional time to maneuver and adjust their speed. Therefore, it is important to not pass a large truck going uphill or downhill as their speeds will be adjusted. In addition, when planning to pass a commercial truck it is important to pass on the left side, where it is easier for the driver to see approaching vehicles. Remember to maintain your speed when passing and use proper signals so truckers can predict your next move.
Give Clear Signals
When driving near a commercial truck, be sure to use proper signals sooner than you would with normal motorists. This will allow truck drivers adequate time to adjust his or her driving and avoid collisions.
While commercial truck drivers have a responsibility to always be safe, personal vehicle drivers also have a responsibility to be safe too. With proactive and defensive driving by personal vehicle drivers, the incidents of truck accidents can be reduced. Follow these tips and guidelines, as well as the general rules of the road, to keep everyone safe.
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident involving a truck, reach out to the truck accident lawyers at Dale E. Anstine. Get a specialized attorney on your side who has a full understanding of auto and truck accident law to know what you may be facing in court. With offices in York and Hanover, our team is proud to protect the injured across the Central Pennsylvania community. Consultations are always free, we’re available 24/7 and there’s no fee unless we win for you.