7 Tips for Sharing the Road with Semi Trucks
Collectively, semi-trucks travel about 140 billion miles per year delivering goods in the United States. One-third of all U.S. semi trucks are registered in Florida, Texas and California. Obviously, semi trucks are a necessary component of the economy, but when trucks are involved in accidents the results can be catastrophic. It is always important to follow some basic tips when sharing the road with semi trucks.
Tip 1 – Do Not Drive in a Trucker’s Blind Spots
Semi-trucks have 4 blind spots. They are located:
1. Directly behind the trailer. If you cannot see the trucks side mirrors the driver of the semi-truck cannot see you;
2. On the driver’s side there is a blind spot that begins in the lane immediately to the left of the truck that begins at the cab door and extends 1/3 of the way down the trailer;
3. Directly in front of the cab; and
4. To the right of the cab, there is a large blind spot which makes prolonged travel or passing in this lane dangerous.
It is dangerous to be in any of these blind spots because the truck driver cannot see you and if it becomes necessary for the truck to change lanes or stop, the driver will not be able to see cars travelling in one of his blind spots.
Tip 2 – Do not Follow too Closely
Following too closely presents challenges for the trucker and the motorist alike. Motorists should always allow at least 5 seconds between the car and the tractor trailer. This gap can be measured by starting a count when the truck passes a stationary object. Count 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, etc. until the car passes the same stationary object. If the count has not reached 5 Mississippi then the car is following the big rig too closely. Following too closely presents a couple of issues. First, the truck driver cannot see a car that is tailgating. Therefore, if the truck suddenly stops the driver of the car is likely to collide with the back end of the trailer. Second, trucks often have blow outs and throw large chunks of tire as they travel. These large pieces of can actually break a car’s windshield or end up underneath the car and cause serious accidents.
Tip 3 – Do Not Linger Near Trucks
Do not linger behind or beside semi-trucks. Lingering leaves you more likely to be in a truck driver’s blind spot. Truck drivers attempt to vigilantly monitor cars which may be in their blind spots, but sometimes they will lose track of a vehicle, especially if that vehicle has remained in a blind spot for an extended period of time. Riding side by side with a semi also leaves the motorist vulnerable to sudden lane changes made of necessity or truck rollovers. Trucks seem big, heavy and generally immovable, but the truth is that a tractor trailer can be blown over by a stiff wind. Take a look at this YouTube video showing this very phenomenon.
Tip 4 – Do Not Cut Off Trucks
A truck takes twice as long to stop when travelling at highway speeds when compared to a car. This means that if you cut off a truck while braking, the truck may be unable to stop before crashing into your car. Remember trucks can weigh 80,000 pounds. Bringing a fully loaded or even overloaded truck to a complete stop is a time and space consuming task. Therefore, you should always be cognizant of the space you are allowing truck drivers in which to maneuver.
Tip 5 – Do Not Pass or Ride in the Lane to the Right of a Truck
There are least two reasons to refrain from driving in the lane to the right of a truck. These reasons include:
1. There is a large blind spot to the right of truck which prevents the truck driver from seeing your vehicle. This makes passing on the right particularly dangerous, as the driver may not see the car and may change lanes before the pass is completed; and
2. When trucks make a right hand turn they must make a wide turn to avoid hitting the curbs, poles, etc. You do not want to be sandwiched between an 80,000 tractor trailer and a pole.
Tip 6 – Have Patience and Signal Your Intentions
Everyone has been caught behind a truck that pulled into your lane and cut you off to pass another vehicle. It is frustrating and annoying. Please remember that truck drivers are not usually trying to annoy you, they are simply executing a pass and are prevented from doing so by a hill or some other factor which causes a loss of momentum which prevents them from maintaining the speed necessary to execute the pass. Tailgating, honking and flashing lights will not speed up the situation and will unnecessarily endanger you.
When driving around semi-trucks, it is best to signal your intentions. If you are going to pass, use your signals in advance so that the trucker has the opportunity to see and anticipate your maneuver. If a big rig is attempting to pass your vehicle, as a courtesy, flash your lights when the truck driver is clear to return to your lane. Communication will assist the truck driver in his decision making and make the highways safer for everyone.
Tip 7 – Do Not Drive Distracted
This tip applies anytime you are behind the wheel, but doubly so when travelling on the interstate amongst the trucks. Trucks are big and occupy a lot of space. This means that, as the driver of a car, you will likely lose any interaction with a truck. It is, therefore, extremely important to have 100% focus at all times. Texting, talking on a cell phone and eating are all distractions that should be avoided.
Contact Jones Law Group
Have you or a loved one been injured in an accident? Contact an experienced St. Petersburg personal injury attorney at Jones Law Group today. When you contact our office we will immediately set an appointment where you will meet your attorney and be provided with his/her personal contact information. If you do not have transportation or you cannot drive, your attorney will travel to meet you and discuss your case with you in the privacy of your own home.
Whether you were a pedestrian, a bicyclist, or the occupant of car, motorcycle or boat and have been injured in an accident, you should immediately call an experienced personal injury attorney in St. Petersburg at Jones Law Group at (727) 571-1333 during regular business hours or (727) 753-8657 on weekends or after regular business hours. We will evaluate your case for free and you will never pay us a dime unless we recover compensation for your injuries.
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