We’ve all seen this scene in Hollywood movies: the story’s protagonist is seen arguing with his leading actress, or rushing to an emergency in inclement weather when all of a sudden, a tractor trailer appears out of nowhere and causes said protagonist to veer into oncoming traffic, off a cliff, or simply slam into a road barrier. While road accidents involving trucks do frequently happen, a lot more than just bad luck is in play.
According to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, tractor trailers are among the most number of motor vehicles that were involved in traffic incidents in 2009, causing up to 3,000 deaths and 74,000 injuries in that year alone. Hulking heaps of steel as tractor trailers are, 76% of the recorded fatalities and injuries often come from the passenger vehicles that figure into an accident with them.
Commercial truck drivers often observe their own steps to keep the roads safe for their fellow commuters, but it’s still best to keep in mind how you can help enforce safe driving around tractor trailers. Here’s five useful tips to keep in mind as you drive alongside trucks:
TIP #1: MELLOW, COLLECTED DRIVING
Truck drivers are likely the most susceptible drivers around you when it comes to road rage. You’re talking about people who’ve been driving for hours, maybe days on end delivering goods from one side of the coast to the other. Even in their best condition, they can easily be startled by a vehicle suddenly moving into or out of their lanes. If you need to overtake or go into the lane of trailer trucks, do so with care-use turn signals or any other visual indicator to let the truck driver know what you’re planning to do.
TIP #2: VISIBILITY AT ALL TIMES
With the size of tractor trailers, there’s bound to be numerous blind spots for the driver to not see a much lower, smaller, shorter vehicle. Generally, it’s the same places as regular cars, only more prominent—a larger area on either side, and a significant distance in front of the cab. This means that you always have to make sure that you let truck drivers know when you’re approaching their blind spot; better yet, do not approach these blind spots unless necessary, and exercise extra caution whenever you need to. Pro tip: If you can’t see the truck driver from their side mirrors, there’s a chance they don’t see you either.
TIP #3: TRAFFIC RULES
The usual traffic rules are fundamental in keeping your drive safe, and this is no different when driving around trailer trucks. Make sure to drive within the speed limit, which is prescribed for safety on the roads anyway. Observe overtaking rules, as well as the correct method of merging and yielding in intersections.
TIP #4: DISTANCIA AMIGO
A bigger vehicle stops longer—this is a rule that should be as instinctive as yawning when you’re sleepy. Make sure to keep distance from trailer trucks whenever you’re on the road. It’s usually best to keep around 20 to 25 car lengths away from trucks on the freeway to account for emergency stops. Same thing goes when you go uphill and whenever you sit beside a trailer truck at the intersection—give the road giants a generous berth when going up mountains or turning!
TIP #5: WEATHER
With weather being quite unpredictable at times, road safety practices will also need to keep up with it. Make sure to be more cautious when driving around trucks during rain, snow, or high winds—this can affect not only visibility for you and the truck driver, but also the road conditions and your respective vehicles.
For more pointers on how to avoid personal injury and accidents on the road, Boulder Personal Injury Attorney Tenge Law Firm has prepared a handy safety infographic that outlines some more useful points to remember when driving with trucks and other big vehicles on the road.