If you drive with any frequency on America’s roads these days, you no doubt have become accustomed to sharing the asphalt with tractor-trailers. An estimated 3 million commercial trucks drive on our country’s roadways to move 9.2 billion tons of freight every year.
While driving alongside a big rig is a commonplace event, it still can cause the heart to skip a quick beat, and for good reason. A collision with a semi can wreak incredible devastation on a typical passenger vehicle like your family sedan. The sheer difference in weight and size between a fully-loaded 18-wheeler and your car can mean that you suffer extensive property damage and catastrophic personal injury.
What’s more, about 4,000 people lose their lives every year in trucking accidents, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
One of the most dangerous aspects of large commercial trucks are the blind spots. These are the areas where a driver loses sight of other vehicles. Sure, your car has a blind spot, but it’s hard to compare it to the blind spot of a big rig.
Interesting fact: A blind spot in a semi is so big it’s actually been given the name “No Man’s Land.”
The attorneys at Fried Goldberg have been representing trucking accident victims for decades and are very familiar with the hazards of sharing the road with semis. To keep you and your loved ones safe, below are some tips on how to avoid a trucker’s potentially deadly blind spots.
Tips on Staying Safe
Know a semi’s blind spots. Unlike your passenger car, a semi has 3 blind spots:
1. One directly behind the truck that includes the truck’s lane.
2. One directly in front of the truck that includes the truck’s lane and one lane to the right.
3. One on either side of the vehicle that can extend across several lanes.
Allow for plenty of room when driving or switching lanes in front of a truck. A semi’s hood actually conceals part of the road in front of the truck. When you are driving in front of a semi, or when you are about to pull in front of one, use this rule of thumb: be sure to see the entire front of the truck, including both headlights, in your rearview mirror.
Do not follow closely. It’s never a good idea to tailgate, and this is especially the case when driving behind a semi. A big rig driver cannot see your vehicle when you are directly behind it. Of course, you can’t see anything over the top of the semi if you are closely following, making it virtually impossible to anticipate anything in the road that might cause the semi driver to suddenly brake.
For these reasons, be sure to give yourself about 5 seconds following distance behind a truck, or about 20 to 25 car lengths. If the weather is poor, give yourself even more space.
Pass a truck with care. Remember, 18-wheelers have huge blind spots alongside their vehicles that can extend a few lanes. To stay safe as you pass a semi:
1. Signal early.
2. Pass quickly to stay out of the truck’s side blind spots.
3. If you cannot pass a truck quickly, fall back a little so that you can be seen again.
4. Some vehicles, especially smaller cars and motorcycles, may experience some turbulence when moving from behind a truck.
Avoid the truck’s right side when it is turning right. A big rig will need to approach a right turn from a position that is pretty far to the left. Truck’s need such a wide berth to make turns, they sometimes require an extra lane.
For some commuters, especially motorcyclists or bicyclists, it can be tempting to slip into this big gap between the truck and the curb. Don’t do it. The truck driver cannot see you at all and you risk being side-swiped by a vehicle that may weigh as much as 18,000 lbs.
Be patient. Sharing the road with slow-moving semis can seem like a hassle, especially when we are in a hurry. The fact remains that not being patient when driving near a semi is not worth the few seconds you might gain in commuting time. Speeding, not giving semis enough room, lingering in a truck’s blind spot, or not paying attention to a truck’s brake or signal lights are all examples of impatience that can cost you big – even your life. So, please take a deep breath and let your better judgement guide you as you guide the wheel.
Trucking Attorneys on Your Side
Fried Goldberg has built its strong reputation on winning favorable settlements and verdicts for car and trucking accident victims. We hope everyone practices good driving habits, like the ones above, and avoid a costly accident.
If you or a loved one do find yourself the victim of a trucking or car accident, please reach out to us today. We would like to speak with you about your legal options and explain how we can help you through this difficult time.