Trucks are an integral part of today’s economy, transporting goods from one part of the country to another. Over 70 percent of all freight moved in the United States is transported on trucks. In fact, trucks move almost 11 billion tons of freight annually.
Unfortunately, the large number of trucks traveling on highways also leads to significant numbers of accidents with other vehicles, as a trucking accident lawyer Memphis TN trusts might explain. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there were 3,424 fatal accidents involving trucks in 2014 and almost 73 percent of those were collisions with other vehicles. There are things that you can do, however, to avoid a collision with a large truck, keeping you and your passengers safe from significant injury.
- Avoid Blind Spots
Because of their size and the position of the trailer, large trucks often have bigger blind spots than smaller vehicles. Blind spots refer to areas around vehicles that cannot be seen through windows or mirrors. In a tractor trailer, the blind spots are much larger than for a regular passenger vehicle. In most cases, if you cannot see the side mirrors of the truck, they cannot see you. Blind spots commonly exist directly behind the truck, the front of the truck in the lane they are in and the one to the right as well as beside the right side door of the truck.
- Be Cautious When Changing into a Lane in Front of a Truck
Trucks are unable to make sudden maneuvers due to their size and weight. If you pass a truck, do not cut immediately in front of them to move into their lane as they may not be able to stop quickly. Always make sure the entire cab is clearly visible in your rearview mirror, use your turn signal before changing lanes and move slowly into the truck’s lane without losing speed.
- Watch for Wide Right Turns
Trucks must often turn slightly to the left when making a right turn, especially if they are turning onto a small street. If a truck has their right blinker on, do not immediately attempt to pass on the left until you are sure the truck will not need to make a wide turn into the left lane.
- Do Not Tailgate
Trucks maneuver differently than cars, which means a driver may need to slow for traffic long before a passenger car. Riding too closely to the rear of a tractor trailer could lead to an accident if the truck slows suddenly. This is especially important when traveling on wet or slippery roads.
- Report Unsafe Driving
Most trucking companies have numbers you can call if you witness one of their drivers operating a truck in an unsafe manner. This could include weaving, driving too fast, or driving aggressively. Trucking companies take driver safety seriously, so it is critical that you notify them if any of their drivers are unsafe.
- Do Not Ride Next to Large Trucks
On two-lane highways, never ride next to a tractor trailer. Either pass the truck legally and move into the lane in front of them when it is safe, or slow down to move behind them. Trucks may have to make sudden lane changes to avoid other collisions and may not see you if you are riding next to them.
- Do Not Underestimate their Size and Speed
When pulling out onto a roadway, never underestimate the size of a truck or how fast it may be going. Despite their size, trucks can travel surprisingly fast, so a truck may be coming toward you at a higher rate of speed than you anticipate.
- Allow More Time at Lights and On Inclines
If you are behind a truck, remember that they must begin moving from a dead stop more slowly than other vehicles. They also may have to drive more slowly on inclines. Allow for this adjustment in speed if you are behind them.
- Allow Trucks to Move Into Your Lane
If a truck signals that they need to make a lane change, slow down to allow them to move into your lane if it is safe to do so. Do not speed up to pass them in order to get ahead. Cutting in front of the truck and hitting your brakes could put you in significant danger.
- Stay Alert to Traffic Ahead of You
When traveling on roadways with trucks, stay alert to traffic ahead of you and to the truck. If traffic has slowed ahead, begin to slow far in advance to provide adequate time for braking. In addition, if signs indicate a closed lane or detour, begin moving into the open lane as soon as you see the first warning sign. If there is room for a truck to move in front of you, blink your lights to let them know it is safe to take your lane.
These ten tips can keep you, your family, and all your passengers safe. If you or a loved one has been involved in a collision with a truck or other vehicle, contact us today to learn what rights you may have.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Patterson Bray for their insight into trucking accident cases.