It’s easy to feel like you’re playing a dangerous game of Frogger when you’re forced to share the road with a tractor trailer that dwarfs everything in its path. But did you know that passenger vehicles are at fault in over 80 percent of accidents between cars and tractor trailers? And according to the American Trucking Association, approximately 70 percent of all goods are transported by commercial vehicles – so simply avoiding them isn’t really an option.
But semis and other oversized specialty vehicles have to navigate roads differently, so learning what they need – and how you can better accommodate them – can help you both safely share the road.
A tractor trailer’s challenges:
- Reduced field of vision, with blind spots on both sides, in front of and behind their trucks.
- Longer stopping time, often the length of two football fields, for higher rates of speed.
- Slower maneuvering – like merging – because of size.
- Wind vulnerability which makes them harder to control when it’s windy.
- Wide turns – especially right turns.
What you can do:
- Pass with precaution. Always pass on the left – their blind spot is smaller on that side – and keep a steady speed. When encountering larger vehicles, it’s important that you follow proper passing procedures to get by them safely and efficiently. Avoid passing them on the right and never cut them off. And before pulling in front of a truck, make sure you can see both of its headlights in your rearview mirror. Often, the driver may flash his headlights when you signal to acknowledge that he sees you and that it’s safe to move back into the lane.
- Give them space. Keep a safe following distance of four seconds or more between you and tractor trailers to help avoid dangerous situations such as sudden stops (and a potential rear-ending), a truck rollover, a tire blowout or a wide turn. As many truck bumper stickers remind us, remember that if you can’t see the truck’s mirrors, they can’t see you. Also avoid driving next to any big vehicles – putting yourself unnecessarily in one of their blind spots – as they could move into your lane unexpectedly. Another rule of thumb for determining a safe distance around big rigs is to look for the driver’s face reflected in the mirrors – if you can’t see it, the driver can’t see you.
- Drive undistracted. Be sure to always be alert so you can maintain a safe distance from large trucks as you share the road. In a smaller vehicle, you can maneuver more quickly which can help you – and tractor trailers – stay out of danger.
Whether you’re driving to work, taking a road trip, or just running errands, tractor trailers and oversized specialty vehicles will undoubtedly be sharing your route. They’re easy to spot – and can be therefore easy to avoid – if you simply commit yourself to cautiously and courteously sharing the roadways.
Driving alongside them can be stressful or even dangerous, which is all the more reason to know how you can take the necessary steps to proactively and defensively navigate the roadways together.
But if you or someone you know is involved in an accident, please don’t hesitate to call Tampa truck accident attorney John Castro any time, day or night. Mr. Castro is an experienced personal injury attorney in trucking accident cases dedicated to representing your best interests.