Truck accidents have been increasing in recent years. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that the number of individuals killed in accidents with large trucks was 30% higher in 2017 compared to 2009. IIHS data also shows that drivers and passengers of other vehicles are more likely to sustain serious injuries and fatalities when they are involved in an accident with a semi-truck.
Of the 4102 individuals killed in trucking accidents in 2017, 68% of them were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles. Just 17% were occupants of large trucks, and another 14% were motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. As truck accident fatalities continue to rise, it is more important than ever for drivers to be extra cautious on the road to avoid a semi-truck accident.
Here are five tips to help you stay safe when you are driving near a big rig:
Keep your Distance
18-wheelers require a lot of extra space to maneuver safely on the road. Large trucks make much wider turns than regular passenger vehicles, and a fully-loaded tractor-trailer requires about 20% to 40% more breaking distance under normal road conditions. This percentage increases when there is inclement weather; such as heavy rains, sleet, ice, and snow.
If you get too close to a semi-truck, you put yourself at greater risk for several types of hazards, such as:
- Sudden stops and slowdowns;
- Your vehicle being struck by materials or debris falling out of the truck;
- Tire blowouts;
- Rollover accidents or the truck falling to its side because of heavy wind and other adverse weather conditions.
Stay out of the Truck’s Blind Spots
Every vehicle has blind spots, but on a big rig truck, there are four large areas, one along each side of the truck, one directly behind the truck, and one directly in front of the truck, where the truck driver cannot see you. These areas are commonly referred to as “no zones”. Stay out of these “no zones” as much as possible to help avoid an accident with a semi-truck.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has a detailed illustration and video showing where the blind spots are on a large commercial truck. But when you are driving, it is hard to remember exactly where the zones are. One good general rule to follow is that if you cannot see the driver in his/her side mirror, he/she probably cannot see you either.
Turn your Brights Off
Most people are aware that they should lower their high beams when a vehicle approaches from the opposite direction. But we should also keep our brights off when there is another vehicle in front of us, and this is especially true with big rig trucks. Because they have larger rearview and side mirrors, truck drivers can be blinded by another vehicle’s high beams.
Be Careful when Passing Semi-Trucks
There are times when you need to enter a large truck’s blind spots in order to pass them up or just get past them while merging into traffic. Be sure to do this carefully, and do not spend too much time driving alongside a truck. Always try to pass large commercial trucks on the left side as their left blind spot is smaller than the one on their right, and make sure you have plenty of space ahead of you to complete the passing maneuver safely.
Stay Off of Your Phone while Behind the Wheel
With the increased use of smartphones, distracted driving has become a contributing factor in a growing number of motor vehicle accidents. Whenever you are driving, and especially when you are sharing the road with a semi-truck, refrain from texting or any other activity that involves looking at your phone. If you need to make a call while you are driving, keep your phone in “hands free” mode, so you can keep both of your hands on the wheel and focus on the road while you are talking.
Injured in a Semi-Truck Accident in Alabama? Speak to an Experienced Trucking Accident Lawyer
Maybe you are driving safely and still ended up in a truck accident. This may happen because of negligence on the part of the other driver, mechanical failure, a vehicle product defect, or a similar issue. If you or someone close to you was injured any big rig accident that was the fault of another party, you deserve to be compensated. Seek immediate medical attention for your injuries, then contact a seasoned personal injury attorney to help ensure that your legal right to compensation is preserved.
At the Law offices of Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce, Thompson & Short we have extensive experience successfully representing clients injured in trucking accidents in Alabama. We have in-depth knowledge of personal injury law, and we fight hard to help you obtain the full and fair compensation you need and deserve. Call our office today at 334-731-7693 for a free consultation, or message us through our web contact form.