In 2015 alone, there were roughly 415,000 police-reported truck accidents in the United States. Of these crashes, explains the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, more than 3,500 were fatal while a staggering 83,000 resulted in injury.
Statistics like this are sobering reminders of how dangerous it is to drive around semi-trucks. Because of their size and weight, collisions are oftentimes incredibly violent, causing considerable damage to both vehicles and to occupants in the smaller vehicle. It’s due to this fact that we wanted to highlight five important driving tips when operating around semi-trucks.
- Leave plenty of space. Semi-trucks need longer stopping distances than the average car. When vehicles zip in front of semis without allowing adequate space, collisions often occur. It’s also important not to follow too closely behind a semi, especially if the truck driver needs to stop suddenly. If you are tailgating, you may not have enough room to stop safely to avoid a crash.
- Be mindful of a truck’s blind spots. Unlike smaller vehicles, truck drivers must contend with big blind spots. Smaller vehicles within these “no zones” are more likely to collide with a truck driver because the driver cannot see the other vehicle. Knowing where these blind spots are located, how big they are, and avoiding lingering in them for too long can greatly reduce one’s risk of not being seen.
- Avoid distractions. We all know the dangers of texting and driving, but this sentiment is more true when operating near large commercial vehicles. Distractions can easily cause us to misjudge the flow of traffic, break suddenly – which can lead to a crash – or accidentally collide with another vehicle.
- Anticipate a truck driver’s needs. Whether a truck is changing lanes or making a right turn, it’s important for other drivers to anticipate how much space the truck driver will need in order to avoid an accident. Failing to pass quickly on a truck driver’s left or encroaching on the right-side blind spot can all result in dangerous collisions.
- Make sure you and your passengers are secured. It goes without saying that wearing your seatbelt is the single most important thing you can do when you get into your car. Your seatbelt can prevent you from flying around the cabin in the event of a crash, helping to reduce injuries and the likelihood of a fatality.