Semi-truck crashes are often significantly more devastating than any collision with a smaller passenger vehicle. The increased risk for severe injuries and loss of life is largely due to the size, weight, and lack of maneuverability that is inherent in these commercial vehicles.
As a responsible driver, you have a legal duty to take proactive steps to prevent big rig crashes. Taking these measures not only helps to ensure road safety for yourself but also for others sharing the road. In this blog post, we will discuss seven crucial steps you can take to avoid a crash with a semi-truck.
If you were injured in a crash with a semi-truck, you should consider contacting a Fort Worth semi-truck accident lawyer to discuss your legal options.
How Can I Avoid Being in a Crash With a Semi-Truck?
There are many steps drivers can take to avoid crashes with any vehicle. When it comes to big rigs, 18-wheelers or other semi-trucks, driving safety includes steps that take the unique characteristics of trucks into consideration. Following these seven easy steps can help you avoid being in a semi-truck crash.
1. Maintain a Safe Following Distance
One of the primary causes of accidents involving semi-trucks is the failure to maintain an adequate following distance. When following behind a semi-truck, you should always allow at least one car length for every 10 miles per hour you are traveling. This extra space provides you with more time to react to sudden stops or lane changes by the truck.
Additionally, if you can avoid it, you should always avoid driving with a truck in front of you and in back of you. If the trailing truck were to rear-end you, getting pushed into another semi-truck would likely be catastrophic.
2. Avoid Driving in Blind Spots
Semi-trucks have significantly larger blind spots or “no-zones,” when compared to smaller passenger vehicles. These blind zones are directly behind the truck, directly in front of the truck, and along both sides. To avoid a collision, stay out of these blind spots as much as possible. In fact, if you can keep a lane of travel between your vehicle and any truck, that is even better. The key tip to remember here is that if you cannot see the truck’s mirrors, the truck driver cannot see you.
3. Stay in Your Lane and Properly Signal if You Need to Change Lanes or Merge
Do not drift in and out of traffic lanes or quickly merge into a lane where you are cutting off a truck. Large commercial vehicles, like semi-trucks, 18-wheelers and big rigs cannot stop as quickly as a passenger vehicle. Because of their heavier weight, they need more time and stopping distance. If you suddenly cut in front of them without allowing sufficient distance, they may be unable to avoid rear-ending you.
Additionally, you should always properly signal your intentions well in advance when changing lanes or merging onto the highway. A last-second signal does not give a truck driver ample time to react.
Your best protection tip is to drive predictably. This means not weaving in and out of traffic, properly signaling to indicate you are turning, taking an exit, merging or changing lanes.
4. Give Trucks Extra Space for Turns
Semi-trucks require more space to make turns. When you notice a truck with its turn signal on, give it extra room. Move over a lane if it is safe to do so. If not, slow down a bit to let them get further ahead of you. Do not attempt to pass a turning truck on the inside as the driver may not see you. This could end up causing the truck to collide with your vehicle during the turn.
5. Avoid Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is a leading cause of accidents. It is particularly dangerous when sharing the road with semi-trucks. Avoid activities such as texting, talking on the phone, or eating while driving. These distractions can lead to reduced reaction times and poor judgment when interacting with large trucks.
6. Adjust Your Driving to Bad Weather and Poor Road Conditions
Adverse weather conditions like rain, snow, or fog can make driving treacherous, especially around semi-trucks. Reduce your speed, increase following distance, and use your headlights in poor visibility conditions. Remember that trucks take longer to stop even when the weather is not bad, give them even more space.
7. Respect Truck Drivers
Truck drivers have a demanding job that often requires them to be on the road for long hours at a time. Show them respect and understanding for the difficult job they do. If a truck driver starts to follow you too closely, it is better to look for a safe opportunity to move over to the next lane and let them pass.
Avoid retaliating against a truck driver or engaging in any aggressive behaviors yourself. For instance, do not tailgate them or flash your headlights at a truck driver to pressure them to move faster. This is considered reckless behavior and is illegal in most states.
Drivers Have a Legal Duty to Avoid Causing Others Harm
Preventing a crash with a semi-truck requires a combination of defensive driving skills, awareness, and courtesy. By following the tips in this article, you can significantly reduce the risk of a collision.
Remember, safety on the road is a shared responsibility. If you are negligent in your duty and it leads to a crash, you could end up critically injured. You may also end up being liable for the damages you cause. Alternatively, by taking these seven recommended steps to avoid a crash with a semi-truck, you contribute to a safer driving experience for everyone.