It can be frustrating to be stuck driving behind a semi-truck. They block our vision and take too long to make tight turns. However, trucks are much larger and carry much more weight on the road, so accidents can be catastrophic. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 5,000 people in passenger cars die each year when involved in a collision with semi-trucks. That said, there are steps car drivers and truck drivers can take to safely share the road with each other.
How to Drive Safely With Semi-Trucks
When traveling behind or alongside larger trucks, it is important that drivers stay out of the truck driver’s blind spots. There are four areas around the truck that are aptly named “No-Zones.” These zones exist directly behind the truck and on the right side of the truck. If you are driving on the left side, it is important to bear in mind if you are unable to see the truck driver’s side-view mirror, you are in the truck driver’s blind spot. The fourth blind spot is in front of the truck, which means you should never get in front of a semi-truck unless you can see the entire front of the truck in your rear-view mirror.
If you want to pass the truck due to slower speeds or a lack of visibility, always pass on the left side of the truck and make sure you allow a substantial amount of room before you switch back into the truck’s lane. Bear in mind it takes longer for trucks to stop than cars, which means they require more space in between. Never cut off a truck and slow down, as this increases the likelihood of a collision.
To safely follow a truck, do not follow closely. You will not be visible to the truck driver and, should the vehicle come to a sudden stop, it will be difficult to swerve around the truck to avoid a collision. Following too closely is especially dangerous on inclines where the likelihood of the truck rolling backwards increases. Moreover, if you want to navigate your car to the left in order to pass the truck, it is possible you will hit an oncoming vehicle that would have been visible if you were driving at a safe distance. Other hazards to passenger cars include tire blowouts or debris from the truck’s load.
What Should Truck Drivers Be Doing to Protect Other Cars?
Passenger car drivers are not the only ones who are responsible for safely sharing the road. There are steps truck drivers can take to reduce the chance of having an accident with a passenger car. Truck drivers are trained to be aware of their truck’s No-Zones. And, as frustrating as it may be for truck drivers who are around cars that drive too close or in the truck’s blind spots, it is ultimately the truck driver’s responsibility to maintain safe distances.
It is also the truck driver’s responsibility to properly maintain the truck, so mechanical malfunctions do not occur and endanger other passenger car drivers. Truck drivers should also make sure their trucks are loaded properly by ensuring trucks are not overloaded and the cargo is spread evenly throughout the truck.
Truck drivers should also control their speed. Curves can be particularly dangerous and many trucks tip over if they drive too fast on them. Bad weather can also pose a huge risk, especially when truck drivers do not reduce their speed. Approximately 25 percent of all speeding-related truck accidents happens in bad weather conditions.
If you or a loved one is involved in an accident with a truck driver who did not adhere to these safe practices, it is important to contact an attorney immediately to evaluate your rights in the situation.