4 Tips for Driving Safely Around Large Trucks

Sharing the road with big rigs, tractor trailers and semis in New York is no easy task. Every year, hundreds of motorists are seriously injured or killed in truck accidents – many of which were largely preventable.

More than a quarter of a million crashes between passenger cars and commercial trucks happen every year in the United States – with car drivers contributing to many of these collisions. Although some accidents are caused by mechanical failure, bad weather, improperly loaded cargo and fatigued truck drivers, recent reports suggest that passenger drivers may share part of the responsibility.

Understanding some basic limitations of large trucks can help passenger car drivers avoid danger and collision.  Here are four tips to help you drive with confidence near 18-wheelers.

Don’t drive in their blind spots

Truckers have the best visibility on the left side, or driver’s side of the vehicle. However, 18 wheelers still have massive blind spots on all sides known as “No Zones.” Be extremely careful to stay out of these blind spots, on the front, back, left and right side (which is their biggest blind spot). How do you  know if you’re in a No Zone? If you cannot see a truck driver’s face in their side mirror, they can’t see you either. 

Pass trucks on the left-hand side

If you need to pass a semi truck, always do so on their left hand side, which has a smaller blind spot. Put your turn signal on early, accelerate and then pass quickly, ensuring you can see the tractor trailer in your rear view mirror before getting in front. Never pass a truck on a downgrade, or over multiple lanes where visibility is compromised.

Keep a safe distance

Because trucks are bigger and substantially heavier compared to passenger vehicles, they need more time to stop, execute turns and accelerate. Following a truck too closely at high speeds is a recipe for disaster, so avoid tail gating and keep a safe distance between the truck and your vehicle at all times. Also note that tractor trailers take 40 percent longer to stop, and this distance increases with heavy cargo or icy, wet roads. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a fully loaded 18-wheeler traveling under normal road conditions requires a distance of nearly two football fields to stop completely.

Give trucks extra room for turns

Sharp turns are impossible for trucks due to their length and larger size. Extra caution is needed when you see a truck with its turn signal on. They will swing out wide, and may even start turning from a center lane. Pay special attention when trucks are making a right-hand turn. Vehicles that try and pass or are idling alongside the right side can get trapped and literally squeezed against whatever wall, median or barrier is present.

Sharing the highway safely with large commercial vehicles means taking special precautions. Once you understand and respect that tractor trailers take longer to stop, need additional space to maneuver, and are compromised by various blind spots, you can reduce the chances of being in an accident.

NY truck accident law firm

Catastrophic injuries are not uncommon in crashes involving 18 wheelers. Avoid becoming an accident statistic by following the above safety tips and being respectful of other drivers.

New York truck accident lawyers at Edelman, Krasin and Jaye have decades of experience helping Long Islanders and victims throughout NY, and have the case results to prove it. To schedule a free, no-obligation case review, call us toll-free at 800.469.7429.

Resources for “Driving Safely Near Big Trucks”:

  1. State Farm, Safely Share the Road with Large Trucks https://www.statefarm.com/simple-insights/safety/safely-share-the-road-with-large-trucks
  2. FMCSA, Tips for Driving Safely Around Large Trucks or Buses https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/ourroads/tips-driving-safely-around-large-trucks-or-buses
  3. Life Hacker, A Trucker’s Best Safety Tips for Driving Around a Big Rig on the Highway http://lifehacker.com/a-truckers-best-safety-tips-for-driving-around-a-big-ri-1734797722