As you drive to work, the grocery store and even your child’s school, there is a possibility that you might need to share the road with tractor-trailers. Many drivers treat tractor-trailers no differently than passenger vehicles. However, tractor trailers have operating limitations that passenger vehicles do not have, and crashes involving tractor-trailers typically cause much more damage than caused by crashes involving only passenger vehicles.
Collisions between passenger vehicles and tractor-trailers can be caused by tractor-trailer braking capability or truck driver fatigue, among other causes. However, there are actions you can take as the driver of a passenger vehicle, to help prevent being involved in a crash with a tractor-trailer.
One of the most important rules of thumb to remember is to always be visible when driving near a tractor trailer. This may sound simple, but tractor-trailers have large blind spots on all four sides, which you must avoid driving in. This means that leaving plenty of space between you and the tractor-trailer may be necessary, even though it may seem counterintuitive to being seen.
You should leave more than 30 feet in front of you when following a tractor-trailer, and allow more than 20 feet of space in front of the tractor-trailer before merging in front of it. The tractor-trailer’s side blind spots extend over one lane on the left side and two lanes on the right side.
If you cannot see the driver’s face in the tractor-trailer’s mirror or through one of the tractor-trailer’s windows, you may be in a blind spot. If you find yourself in this situation, try to speed up or slow down slightly to move out of the blind spot.
Another good rule of thumb is to be patient. It takes tractor-trailers extra time to accelerate and extra time to stop. There are other operating limitations that truck drivers must deal with as well.
For example, because of their long length, tractor-trailers must swing wide to safely complete a turn. You can be understanding of this need by patiently waiting behind a turning tractor-trailer instead of squeezing between the tractor-trailer and the curb. When drivers try to squeeze next to a turning tractor-trailer, they risk being crushed by the tractor-trailer as it tries to complete the turn.
Being a predictable driver can also help you remain safe on the roadways. To be predictable to truck drivers, be sure to always use your turn signal, avoid tailgating a tractor-trailer, avoid slamming on your brakes in front of a tractor-trailer and avoid cutting off a tractor-trailer when merging.
Also, if you find that you must pass a tractor-trailer, it is important that you do so in a predictable and safe way. Start the merging process when you are far enough behind the tractor-trailer that you are not in the vehicle’s rear blind spot. Signal your intention, and move into the left lane. Never pass on the right side. Once you are in the left lane, pass the truck without lingering in the side blind spot. Then, allow plenty of space between you and the truck before signaling and merging in front of it.
When tractor-trailer crashes occur, they can cause devastating damage. If you have been severely injured in a collision with a tractor-trailer, it may be appropriate to take legal action. You may be able to receive compensation for your medical expenses and other expenses related to your injury.