Being Careful Driving Around Semi-Trucks
With their large forms and their unpredictable behavior, semi-trucks can pose a driving hazard to smaller, personal vehicles. This article looks at mistakes to avoid around these large trucks to help prevent accidents and injury.
Sharing the road with other cars when you drive is one thing; sharing it with giant semi-trucks is quite another. These large vehicles that weigh in excess of 35 tons each can be hard to stop quickly. A collision can result in terrible injuries.
It’s important to be alert when you drive in your car around large trucks. In particular, it can help keep you safe to pay attention to four important rules.
Don’t pass large trucks on the right
In general, you should never pass vehicles on the right; it’s against the law. It’s especially dangerous to ever do this around 18-wheelers, however. These trucks tend to operate on principles that you may not be aware of. For instance, if the driver of a semi-truck needs to turn into a road on the right, they often need to first go left to make room; then, they cut a wide circle into the road on the right. This practice of moving left in order to turn right may make it appear to a car behind, for a short time, that there is room to pass. Once you begin the process of overtaking the truck, however, you’re likely to notice that the driver makes a right turn toward you. It’s a good idea to simply make a rule to never pass a semi-truck on the right.
Don’t spend more than a few seconds in a truck’s blind spots
Cars can have blind spots; wide roof pillars, for example, can obstruct your view. Large trucks, however, tend to come with many such areas. Long engine hoods on trucks can make it hard for drivers to see anything immediately in front, for example. Drivers can find it hard to see in their mirrors what’s immediately behind a long trailer, as well. It can even be a challenge to see vehicles running up alongside. If you position your car on one side of a long semi-truck for a while, you may be in trouble if the driver of the truck decides to switch to your lane. It’s important to keep these blind spots in mind when you’re around a truck, and make an effort to get out of them as early as possible.
Never cut off a truck
While cutting any vehicle off is inadvisable, it can be particularly dangerous trying this maneuver with an 18-wheeler. When you cut another vehicle off, they often need to slow down dramatically, to avoid running into you. A heavy, fully loaded semi-truck, however, cannot stop very quickly. Such a truck can take about 750 feet to get from 50 mph to a standstill. The extreme levels of weight that these trucks haul contribute to their momentum, making them only capable of gradual deceleration.
Never let your guard down
Semi-trucks have long trailers that have large surfaces that present crosswinds. A strong wind can easily move a semi-truck from one lane to another. It’s the responsibility of the driver of such a truck to compensate for these tendencies, but sometimes, they may be unable to do it very quickly. It’s important to keep truck drift in mind when you are around these vehicles. You need to learn to drive defensively, to help avoid disaster.
Don’t position yourself behind a semi-truck
Tailgating a semi-truck is never a good idea. Not only is the driver of the truck likely to be unable to see you in their mirrors, you are likely to be unable to see obstructions on the road up ahead, as well. If you’re behind a large truck, it takes up most of your field of vision. You won’t be able to see oncoming vehicles or other objects until the truck driver sees them, and moves to a different lane, or stops. A sudden stop by the truck in front of you could result in an underride – a situation in which your car is forced underneath the back of the truck in front of you. If you’re behind a truck, it’s a good rule to adopt, to stay far away.
Finally, it’s important to make sure, when you drive at night, to be careful around these trucks. With little traffic around to slow them down, these drivers tend to speed up, making it even harder for them than usual, to slow down in the event of a problem.
As careful as you may be, if you’re injured in an accident involving a truck, it is likely to involve multiple parties and insurance companies. Taking up your case with an experienced personal injury lawyer by your side can help make sure that your case is handled correctly, and results in a fair outcome.