Commercial trucks are a common sight on American roads, with nearly 37 million trucks being used for business purposes in 2018. Almost 4 million of those trucks were extra-large class 8 trucks, weighing over 33,001 pounds. Unfortunately, these large trucks can pose an extreme danger to other vehicles on the road, with over 500,000 trucking accidents reported in the United States every year.
Because of the proliferation of large trucks, and their high likelihood for dangerous accidents, it is critical to learn how to drive safely around them. Below are our top safety tips to help you avoid a catastrophic accident with a large truck.
Give Trucks More Space
Commercial trucks can take 20-40 percent farther than cars to stop, with even greater distances on wet or slippery roads. If you are closely following a truck and it experiences a mechanical failure, or incident such as a tire blowout, you are highly likely to be involved in an accident.
If you are driving below 40 mph, a good rule of thumb is to leave at least one second for every 10 feet of vehicle length. This means you should leave about 4 seconds between your vehicle and a commercial truck. For speeds over 40 mph, leave one additional second. Double your following distance in adverse weather conditions such as rain.
Don’t Drive in a Truck’s Blind Spot
All vehicles have a blind spot, but commercial trucks have four large blind spots that pose a danger to other drivers. The most dangerous place to be when driving next to a commercial truck is on it’s passenger side, as that blind spot is significantly larger than the one on the driver’s side. Always pass large trucks on the driver’s side, and avoid staying directly alongside a commercial truck as you can easily be in their blind spot without knowing it.
Use Caution When Changing Lanes
Never pass trucks on the right, and do not linger as you pass the truck. If you cannot see the truck driver, they cannot see you. Move at a steady speed as you pass, and do not slow down or brake when you move in front of the truck, as they need more time than a passenger vehicle to slow down or stop.
Pay Attention in Adverse Weather Conditions
Rain, snow, ice, or fog are dangerous conditions for anyone to drive in, but they are particularly dangerous for commercial trucks. They will need extra time and distance to slow down or stop, so it is more critical than ever to give them enough room on the highway. Trucks can roll over or spin out in high winds or on wet roadways, and any passenger vehicles in their way are at risk of a serious accident.
Patience Is Key
It’s easy to become frustrated when sharing the road with a commercial truck. They take up a large amount of space and take longer to speed up or go around curves. Some drivers respond to this with road rage or aggression, but remember that if you are going up against a vehicle that is 20 times your size, you will almost always be putting yourself in grave danger.
Trucks are often driving under speed caps that prevent them from driving the same speed as a personal vehicle, which is done for everyone’s safety. Truck drivers want to do their jobs safely and efficiently, so have patience when sharing the road with them, and wait for a safe time to pass.
Not All Accidents Are Avoidable
Even if you follow all the above tips, it’s still possible that you may be the victim of a trucking accident. Truck drivers that are distracted, fatigued, or have a truck with a mechanical error, can create situations that are beyond your control. If you are involved in a trucking accident, a skilled lawyer can help you receive the maximum compensation for your injuries and losses. Call the team at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt today to discuss your case. We can be reached by calling 1-866-333-7715 or by filling out our form.