How To Stay Safe When Driving Near Semi Trucks And 18 Wheelers

The freeways are still the major corridors to move freight in our country. If you have driven lately, chances are you have had multiple encounters with an 18-wheeler: either pulling out in front of you, blocking the roadway. merging from the acceleration lane or driving close behind you. Since the average commercial truck is more than 70 feet long and weighs 40 tons fully loaded, it takes them three football fields of space to come to a complete stop. Consequently, many 18 wheeler accidents involve fatalities or catastrophic injuries, simply because these trucks are so big and heavy. It’s simple physics.

With this in mind, here are a few suggestions you can do to make sharing the road with big rigs a lot safer. 

Stay Out Of A Truck's Blind Spot

Trucks have large blind spots to the right and rear of the rig, and smaller blind spots on the right front corner and mid-left side. The driver cannot see you if he starts to turn or change lanes suddenly.

Never Tailgate A Semi-Truck

Avoid riding or tailgating as doing so can create danger for you and everyone around you. If you find yourself in a truck’s blind spot, get to a point that allows you to see the side mirrors. Don’t linger alongside of a truck.

Keep A Safe Distance Between Your Vehicle And An 18 Wheeler

Always keep a safety cushion--your vehicle a safe distance behind or ahead of a tractor trailer. Should you need to stop suddenly, you want the truck behind you to have sufficient space in which to stop without striking your vehicle’s rear end. Likewise, you want to be able to stop your own vehicle if the truck in front of you suddenly slows down or changes lanes. Never follow a truck closely or let one follow you closely.

Be Cautious Changing Lanes Near A Tractor Trailer

If you’re changing lanes in front of a semi, a good rule of thumb is to enter its lane only after you can see the entire cab in your rear-view mirror. Also factor in a tractor trailer’s braking time before you move in front of it. Weather conditions such as rain, ice, fog, as well as lighting and traffic conditions may dictate to leave even more distance between you and the truck.

Use Care When Passing A Semi-Truck

Don’t pass during a turn. Pay attention to an 18-wheeler’s turn signals before you decide to pass it. If the blinker is on, the truck is probably preparing to make a turn. Large trucks sometimes make wide turns, so it’s a bad idea to try to pass one when you see a turn signal in either direction. Anticipate Risk Trailer drifting, lane change, and fatigued driving does occur with big rig driving, so make sure you have more than enough perception and reaction time. Drive your vehicle a sufficient distance away from the big rig and do not get caught in between two 18 wheelers.

Merge Into Traffic Carefully

Merging along a 70 foot long, moving semi can become awkward. Most state laws dictate that trucks stay in the far right lane, which just so happens to be the merging lane at every intersection. If you are merging into traffic, don’t expect the semi to do anything. Safely change lanes, speed up and get in front of them or slow down and get behind them.

Distance Yourself From Aggressive Truck Drivers

Always avoid aggressive drivers. If a truck driver is driving poorly or aggressively, stay as far away as possible. Report their driving to the police as soon as you can.

Should you or someone you love become involved in an accident with an 18 wheeler, contact the attorneys at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault immediately. Trucking companies have rapid response teams that are deployed to the accident scene when the satellite electronics or truck driver notify them of an accident. These teams include accident reconstruction experts, engineers, black box data recovery, investigators, and attorneys. It is important that your attorney get his team to the site and truck to capture the evidence before it is destroyed. This is difficult for the victim because they are injured, often hospitalized, and with a lawsuit the least of their concerns.

Have you been involved in a truck accident? It's important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call us directly at 318.541.8188 for your free, no obligation consultation.

Richard J. Arsenault
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Recognized by several legal associations, Richard Arsenault has vast experience in complex litigation cases.