What Can I Do to Prevent an Accident With a Semi Truck?
When you’re driving, you will encounter many different vehicles on the road. Due to their sheer size and the cargo they carry, semi trucks are some of the most dangerous vehicles you will encounter. If you are involved in a collision with a tractor-trailer, the results could be devastating. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 24% of accidents involving a semi truck resulted in injuries or death.
Because of this increased risk, it is important to take special precautions when driving near a semi truck. Defensive driving is something you should always practice, but there are specific tips that you should follow when thinking about driving safely around tractor-trailers.
Also, know that despite your best efforts, you may still be involved in a large truck accident through no fault of your own. Truck drivers and other vehicles on the road could be to blame for the accident, making them potentially liable for your injury costs. Speak to an experienced truck accident lawyer in Tampa to determine who could be at fault after your collision.
Some safety tips to consider when driving around semi trucks include:
Avoid blind spots
Due to the length of many semi trucks, they have more blind spots than normal passenger vehicles. If possible, you should avoid being any closer than 30 feet behind the truck, less than 20 feet in front of the truck, within two lanes of the right side of the truck, and being in the driver’s side lane about halfway down the side of the truck. These are all places that are difficult for the driver to see. Avoid getting stuck in these blind spots by leaving the truck plenty of room on the road.
A good rule of thumb to remember is, “If you can’t see the driver’s face, either directly or in their mirror, then they can’t see you.” If you need to pass a semi truck, it is safer to pass on the left side, as they have restricted views along the passenger side of the truck.
Allow More Room When Following a Truck
When following a semi truck, it is much more difficult for you to see what is happening ahead. There may be construction, or traffic may be stopped or slowing down. Giving yourself more space between your vehicle and the back of the semi will give you extra time to react in the event that you need to swerve or slam on your brakes.
Additionally, when you drive too close to a truck, you are at an increased risk if the truck has any equipment failure. For instance, if the truck has a tire blowout and you are following closely, your vehicle may be more likely to be hit with debris. If there are strong winds, the truck is in danger of tipping over and if you are not far enough away, you may not be able to avoid an accident.
When following a commercial truck, it is a good idea to make sure you have at least four seconds of distance between the two vehicles. Increase this distance by one second for every 10 mph over 50 the current speed limit is. You may also want to give trucks additional space when turning, as the large vehicle may take up more than one lane. Additionally, if a truck is turning right, you want to avoid trying to pass that truck on the right, as you may become stuck between the truck and the curb or other obstacles.
Be Cautious if You Need to Pull Over
Sometimes it is necessary to pull over to the side of the road when driving. When that is the case, it is important that you choose your pull-over spot wisely. Try to find either a designated space for vehicles on the side of the road or a place that has a wide shoulder. If there is not enough room between your vehicle and the road, tractor-trailers may end up side-swiping you if they drift out of their lane even by just a few inches.
Take Care When Passing a Semi Truck
Large trucks take much more time to speed up and slow down than passenger vehicles, so you will always want to use extra caution when passing a semi truck. It is a good idea to avoid passing on hills, since the size of the truck may cause it to increase or decrease speed with little warning.
Once you have passed the truck, you should use clear signals to let the driver know you intend to get in front of their truck. You may want to let your signal run for a little longer than you normally would if you were merging in front of a smaller vehicle, giving the driver plenty of time to see your intentions and adjust their actions, if need be.
Wait until you have ample space between you and the truck before merging back into the previous lane. Merging into a lane in front of a tractor-trailer too quickly and with too little space can be dangerous. Trucks have limited stopping distance, so cutting them off invites the risk that they might rear-end you. If there is a reason that you need to slam on your brakes, the tractor-trailer behind you will likely take much more time to slow down, thereby increasing your chances of being in an accident. A good rule of thumb is to wait until you can see their entire front grille in your rear-view mirror, and waiting until you can fully see their front tires is even better.
On the other hand, if a truck should pass you, it’s a good idea to decrease your speed so that you can lower the amount of time that you’re driving in the trucks’ blindspot. Additionally, even if you don’t want a truck to pass you, it is a good idea to go ahead and let it. Getting into a game of “chicken” with a semi truck can have deadly consequences.
Avoid Driving While Distracted Around Semi Trucks
No matter what vehicles you share the road with, driving distracted always increases the risk of an accident. It is especially important to be vigilant around large commercial trucks, as accidents with these vehicles tend to be particularly damaging. It is a good idea to avoid distracting activities while driving, including eating, talking on your cell phone, or even having a car full of noisy passengers. Anything that requires you to take your hands off the steering wheel, your eyes off the road, or your mind off of driving is distracting.
Texting should only be done when the car is safely out of traffic and off the road. If you begin to feel tired while driving, pull over and take a break. Making sure that you are always aware of your surroundings and the other vehicles on the road can go a long way to prevent accidents.
If You Have Been Involved in a Truck Accident, Contact an Experienced Attorney for Help With Your Claim
Sometimes, regardless of how vigilant you are while driving, collisions will still happen. While following basic highway safety guidelines will decrease your risk of becoming involved in a serious wreck, sometimes a careless truck may cause a grave accident. There may also be other causes, including defective machinery.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident, we are here to help! In order to seek the financial compensation you need to recover, call Darrigo & Diaz to speak to a truck accident lawyer in Tampa during a free, no-risk, no-obligation case evaluation. Call (813) 774-3341 or contact us online to schedule your free, confidential appointment now!