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How to Drive Safely Near a Truck

When it comes to driving, knowledge comes with experience. However, there are also some basic driving tips even the most experienced driver should take note of to stay as safe as possible when driving near large trucks. Tractor-trailers, commonly known as semi-trucks, are not passenger vehicles. They are designed for the purpose of transporting goods over long distances efficiently.

Applying all the same general safe driving rules you would use in typical traffic will help no matter what types of vehicles are on the road with you, but using a little extra caution is important when there are large trucks nearby. Keep the following tips in mind to help avoid any incidents:

  • Keep ample distance. Whether driving beside, behind or in front of a large truck, distance is key to safety. Tractor-trailers need substantially more space than a car does to come to a complete stop in an emergency. This is in part due to the extra weight they carry as well as the weight of their vehicle. A semi-truck sharing the highway with you can weigh as much as 16 times more than the car you are driving. It may also be carrying dangerous chemicals that could turn a simple accident into a disaster.
  • One reason it’s especially important to brush up on safe driving tips is because a large truck can’t always see you as well as you can see them. Since their vehicles are much longer and wider than your average vehicle, tractor-trailers have larger blind spots. Follow this general rule: If you cannot see the truck’s mirrors, the driver cannot see your vehicle. Keep yourself visible. Either pass the truck and maintain speed or slow down a bit and let it pass by you.
  • Stay in your own lane. Semi-trucks are wide and need the full width of their lane to drive, they have no extra wiggle room. If you must pass a tractor-trailer, always try to do so on the left where you’ll be more visible to the driver, and don’t cut the truck off by re-entering the lane closely in front of it. Give them lots of space so they can see where your vehicle is. You never know when they might accelerate and you don’t want to cut in front of them while they are accelerating thus causing them to suddenly brake and lose control.

Though these are some general safe driving tips, there are many other concerns when driving on roads shared with large trucks. We’ve all seen large chunks of rubber all over the roads or on the shoulders. That rubber is from a blown-out tire from a big rig. Most loaded trucks can legally weigh 80,000lbs or more. That is a lot of stress on those tires. You don’t want to get caught next to a big rig when the tire blows and shards of heavy rubber start flying at your vehicle. Keeping your distance will lessen your chances of impact from pieces of tire.

If it’s a windy day or you’re on a raised highway or bridge, the wind creates a “sail” like effect when it hits large trucks and this can result in a lack of control over the vehicle. Though you might think the truck is more stable due to its weight and size, the opposite is true. Trucks have a lot of surface area to catch wind. If the truck is not loaded it’s especially vulnerable to swaying when the wind picks up. The end result can be a large truck unexpectedly drifting into your lane.

Whether driving a car, an SUV, or a semi-truck, we all are supposed to follow the same rules. Check your mirrors regularly, and be alert at all times. Always avoid cell phones and other distractions. Be extra alert when traffic is heavy or the weather is bad.

According to The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, fatalities and serious injuries involving large trucks are numerous. If you have been involved in any type of accident and feel you may need legal advice or representation visit Alexander Law Group, PLC. With over 20 years of experience in handling tractor trailer collisions, we can help you recoup your losses after an accident. Call (804) 271-1969 today for a free consultation.


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