18-Wheeler Accidents: 10 Tips for Driving Safely Around Large Trucks.

Texas Truck Accident Lawyer | How to Avoid Truck and 18-Wheeler Crashes

With more than 15 million large commercial trucks operating within the United States — including some 2 million 18-wheelers — the average motorist is almost sure to encounter multiple big rigs in their daily travels.

Because of their larger blind spots and longer stopping times, semi-trucks and tractor-trailers maneuver differently than smaller passenger vehicles, making them unpredictable and increasing the risk of a serious or fatal crash.  No wonder many motorists become intimidated and stressed when an 18-wheeler or other large commercial vehicle is nearby!

While you can’t control truck driver behaviors that cause truck and 18-wheeler accidents, it is possible to reduce the risk of a crash when you’re behind the wheel.

Below are the 10 most important tips for safely sharing the road with large trucks:

Always Maintain a Safe Distance: Don’t Tailgate.

An 18-wheeler needs significantly more time to stop than a smaller passenger vehicle.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration,  motorists should leave at least four seconds between their vehicle and a large truck for speeds under 40mph. An additional second is needed for speeds over 40mph.

If you’re tailgating an 18-wheeler, the driver won’t be able to see your vehicle in their mirrors. And if you can’t stop in time, your car could be pushed underneath the trailer, resulting in a catastrophic underride crash. Debris is also more likely to hit your vehicle’s windshield, rather than its bumper, should something all from the truck.

Maintaining a safe distance also ensures you’ll have more time to react should the truck experience a tire blowout, rollover on a curve, or jackknife.

Stay out of the Truck’s Blind Spots

A truck’s blind spots – the “No Zones” – are located directly in front, behind, and along each side of the vehicle. Cars traveling in a No Zone aren’t visible to the truck driver and are more likely to be caught up in a crash should the trucker make a sudden and unexpected maneuver.

An 18-wheeler’s No Zones need to be avoided as much as possible. If you cannot see the trucker in their vehicle’s side mirror, they probably can’t see you.

Always Pass with Care

Obviously, you should always pass other vehicles with care. But because truckers need more time to react, adjust their speed, and take appropriate action, doing so is even more important when you’re passing an 18-wheeler or other large commercial truck:

  • Always approach from the left, where it’s easier for the truck driver to see you.
  • Maintain a consistent speed as you pass the truck.
  • Signal clearly and well in advance.
  • Make sure you can see the truck in your rearview mirror before merging back into its lane.

When a truck passes your vehicle, slow down to allow plenty of space in front for the driver to maneuver safely and efficiently.

Be Ready for Wide Turns

Compared to a typical passenger vehicle, a big truck like an 18-wheeler needs more space to turn and is sure to swing wide around a corner. If you’re near a big rig attempting a turn, give the truck driver enough time and space to do so safely.

Never try to pass a truck that has a turn signal on, and don’t drive between the truck and the curb.

Never Cut Off a Big Rig

A fully loaded 18-wheeler traveling at 60 mph may require a distance equal to three football fields to come to a stop.

To avoid being rear-ended by a 40-ton truck, be careful not to cut too closely in front of the vehicle. You should also avoid driving immediately in front of a truck whenever possible.

Always Know Where the Trucks Are

On multilane highways, most truck drivers prefer to travel in the middle lane to avoid the passing lane on the left and vehicles exiting from the right. If you don’t want to get stuck behind a truck, try to remain in either the right or left lane.

Never Drive Right Next to a Truck or 18-Wheeler

Driving right next to a big rig increases the odds that you’ll be hit by a lost tire, or road debris kicked up by the truck. And because you’re likely to be driving in one of the vehicle’s blind spots, the trucker may not see you when they’re changing lanes, swerving to avoid debris, or turning.

Stay Out of the Way on Steep Slopes

Move out of the way if an 18-wheeler or other large vehicle is behind you as you’re headed down a mountain road or other steep slope. Downward momentum and potentially hot brakes could result in a run-away truck, and it’s best if you’re not in its way.

If your vehicle is moving slower than the truck, there’s also a good chance the trucker won’t be able to reduce speed in time to avoid a rear-end collision.

Be Alert for Drifting

A drifting tractor-trailer could signify that a trucker is impaired, falling asleep, texting, or engaging in other risky behavior behind the wheel. Large trucks can also be pushed around by the wind, especially if not fully loaded. If the wind is especially strong, the rig might even tip over.

Watch for drifting and always give a truck extra space, especially in windy conditions.

Drive Responsibly

While you should always drive responsibly, it’s imperative to do so whenever 18-wheelers and other large trucks are nearby:

  • Avoid using your cell phone and other distractions while driving.
  • Don’t drive fatigued. Take regular breaks, ask another driver to relieve you, or get off the road and find a safe place to rest.
  • Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Always buckle up. Make sure kids always ride in the back seat, buckled up, or in car seats.
  • Be patient. Maintain a safe speed and don’t drive aggressively.
  • Avoid sudden movements, including lane changes, sudden stops, or abrupt turns. Give trucks plenty of room and notice when you’re making a change.

Unfortunately, truck and 18-wheeler accidents are often unavoidable, even when you drive responsibly and take all possible precautions to prevent an accident. In our experience, these crashes usually result from negligence or reckless behavior on the part of the trucking company, its driver, or both. If you or a loved one were injured or tragically killed in a trucking-related accident, it’s essential that you take appropriate steps to protect your rights and your family’s future, even if you think your actions contributed to the crash.

Contact an Undefeated Truck Accident Lawyers for a Free Consult at 1-888-603-3636 or by  Clicking Here.

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To learn more about our success representing truck and 18-wheeler accident victims, visit our “Results” page or Click Here to see what our clients have said about their experience with our firm.

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