For many drivers, sharing the roadways with large commercial trucks can range from being frustrating to downright terrifying – and for a good reason. In 2018, a staggering 96% of the fatalities in accidents involving a passenger vehicle and a large truck were the passenger vehicle occupants. Large trucks are also involved in roughly one out of 10 highway deaths.
Due to their size and limited maneuverability, large semi-trucks have to navigate the roads a bit differently than other passenger vehicles. Understanding what big rigs require while driving and what you can do to prevent collisions can help you safely share the road with semis.
Unlike passenger vehicles, every large truck has blind spots on all four sides. Lingering too long in these blind spots will make you virtually invisible to the truck driver. One-third of fatal accidents between large trucks and cars occur in these four “no-zones.” A good rule of thumb is if you can’t see the truck’s side mirrors, you are probably not visible to the trucker.
In 2018, 74% of fatalities in large truck accidents involved a truck carrying a tractor-trailer. The load they are hauling may not be secure and, in some cases, debris from the cargo may fall off and hit your vehicle. Avoid driving behind a large truck too closely to ensure you have time to react if something happens with their load or trailer.
Cutting off a vehicle in traffic is risky in general, but it could be deadly in front of a large truck. A fully loaded semi-truck will need between 20% to 40% more distance than the average car to come to a stop. In hazardous weather, they require even more distance. Always merge responsibly in front of a large truck by leaving plenty of room and using your turn signal.
While you might think encountering a big rig at night would be more dangerous; statistically, you’re more likely to get into a fatal accident with a large truck during the day. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about eight in 10 fatal accidents involving large trucks in 2016 happened on a weekday between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Truck drivers face a handful of difficulties on the road, many of which can put you in immediate danger if you aren’t cautious. Learning the limitations of large trucks and applying these safety tips can take the stress out of sharing the road with big rigs.
If you are hurt in an accident caused by the negligence of another, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. At McDonald at Law, our experienced attorney has been Board Certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA) since 2002. He is the only attorney exclusively representing accidents in Lancaster County. You can schedule your free consultation now by calling our Lancaster office at 717-208-2641 or by sending us an email.