PREVENTING TRUCK CRASHES: HOW TO AVOID COLLIDING WITH A TRACTOR-TRAILER
Safe driving with trucks
Over 15 million trucks operate on U.S. highways, of which about 2 million are tractor-trailers. Class 8 trucks alone, which include all tractor-trailers, logged nearly 140 billion miles in 2006. Given the large number of rigs being operated and the many miles driven, accidents are inevitable.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, large trucks were involved in over 270,000 crashes in 2011, resulting in more than 3,700 deaths and 88,000 injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that, of the deaths, 72 percent were occupants of the other vehicle involved in the crash, usually a passenger car. Only 17 percent were occupants of the truck. Avoiding a collision with a tractor-trailer truck in the first place is therefore the best course of action.
Tips for Avoiding Collisions with Tractor-Trailers
State Farm Insurance advises motorists to take the following steps to avoid colliding with a tractor-trailer:
Stay out of the truck’s blind spots, or “no zones,” located at the rear and side of the truck, and at the connecting point between the tractor and trailer (as a rule of thumb, “if you can’t see the driver in his side mirror, he can’t see you”)
Give a tractor-trailer making a turn a wide berth to avoid getting caught in its blind spot
Keep a safe distance behind a tractor-trailer, which is between 20 and 25 car lengths
Allow even more distance behind a tractor-trailer on uphill climbs and in adverse climate conditions, such as snow, rain and high winds
Always use turn signals when passing a rig
In an emergency pull completely off the road, place flares or hazard lights at both ends to warn approaching traffic, and then move as far away from your vehicle as possible
What Not To Do When Driving on Highways with Tractor-Trailer Traffic
The National Driving School of Taylorsville, Utah, and State Farm recommend that motorists avoid the following actions while driving around large trucks, including tractor-trailers:
Never cut off a truck in traffic or on the highway, even if you have to miss your exit or turn
Do not change lanes abruptly
Do not linger alongside a truck while passing
Do not speed
Never follow a truck too closely or tailgate
Never underestimate the size and speed of an approaching tractor-trailer
Most of these recommendations simply require obeying the rules of the road. Violation of these safety rules is negligence per se, meaning proof of the violation is all that is required to show the driver’s negligence. Drivers should not open themselves up to legal liability by violating traffic laws, much less invite personal danger to themselves.
What If I Am In An Accident With A Tractor-Trailer?
As the above statistics show, collisions of tractor-trailers and other heavy trucks with passenger cars frequently result in death or serious injury to the car’s occupants. If you are injured in a truck accident, or if you lose a loved one in a truck crash, contact an experienced, truck accident attorney, who can obtain full and fair compensation for your injuries or loss.