The number of truck-involved accidents remains high and is increasing, to the point where they now represent around 4.5% of all accidents in the United States. Around 58% of these accidents result in fatalities, and this figure rises to 74% when you’re a pedestrian or cyclist involved in such an accident. We’ve compiled ten safety tips you should keep in mind when sharing the road with a large vehicle – whether that be an 18-wheeler, dump truck, etc.
1. Watch for blind spots
The blind spot extends from 1 to 2 feet from the side of a large truck and this could mean trouble if you’re travelling at speed on the highway and decide to change lanes. The driver may not be able to see you, so it is paramount that you indicate your intentions clearly, don’t overtake when the trucker just passed another vehicle and leave enough room between your car and the truck in case the driver has to take evasive action.
2. Watch for lane changes
A report released by the United States department of transportation in 2021 showed that careless changing of lanes is one of the most common causes of trucking accidents on our roads. Similar to blind spots, changing lanes without adequate warning by using your indicators could also lead to an accident. Some folks are so scared of getting hit by a big rig that they go the speed limit on highways and highways, which can be a recipe for disaster.
3. Don’t tailgate
The same goes for trucks and their approach to changing lanes. These trucks have very large blind spots, so if you’re not paying close attention to your mirrors it is almost certain you’ll become involved in an accident with a truck that is changing lanes behind you.
4. Watch the blind spot completely disappear when you pass a truck
When tons of metal move at high speeds there are bound to be some problems, but this doesn’t always mean that there will be an accident. Depending on the size of the truck, the size and weight of your car and what you happen to be doing, sometimes a truck driver will probably do a good job of dodging you.
5. Hold your line at highway speeds
Most drivers don’t understand that trucks have eyes in the back of their heads that can see an entire lane’s worth of traffic. It is important to hold your line at highway speed when being passed by a truck because it is much easier than waiting for it to recognize your presence could come at no cost to you.
6. Don’t stop alongside the trucker
If you go by mistake in the truck’s blind spot and it hasn’t seen you before it’s quite possible that it will be forced to stop because of traffic in front or behind it. If this happens and you stop alongside it while it’s moving there is a chance that its driver won’t be able to see other vehicles and might pull out in front of them.
7. Obey the speed limit
We’ve already discussed how this can lead to an accident with a truck that is trying – or not trying – to overtake another vehicle. In cities this is not as much of an issue, but on open highways where there are no trucks following you it is vital that you keep to the speed limit.
8. Watch for signs and flashing lights
Traffic signs are placed in areas where there are a lot of trucks travelling on the road, such as intersections and weigh station areas, so you should pay attention to them. A stop sign should be a red flashing light to alert truckers that they can stop quickly if they have time and distance to do so.
9. Avoid the highway after the sun sets
The same goes for trucks and when it is night time. They have great visibility at night and are even more dangerous because of their size and speed, so it’s best to avoid driving at night or on empty highways – and that means you should think seriously about using public transportation or carpooling to get where you’re going.
10. Learn how to drive in truck-heavy areas
Truck drivers are notorious for thinking they can go any distance by simply turning on their truck engine, putting their foot down, and boosting forward. A lot of trucks will also go off the road in an attempt to pass other big rigs and this can spell disaster for you and anyone else who happens to be in their path at that moment.
The majority of truck driver accidents are the result of over-confidence, ignorance or both. You don’t want to become a statistic, so keep these safety tips in mind the next time you’re on the road with a big rig.
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