5 Safety Tips for Driving Around Big Trucks

5 Safety Tips for Driving Around Big Trucks

truck desert

August 18, 2017

Ellis Law Corporation

Truck Accident

If you live in Southern California, you are no stranger to driving around commercial vehicles including big trucks, tractor trailers and buses. The average passenger car weighs 4,000 pounds while an 18-wheeler tips the scales at nearly 80,000 pounds. It’s no wonder that when the two collide, life-threatening injuries result. While many truck accident fatalities are attributed to drowsy truckers on long hauls, shifting cargo or even brake failure, recent studies indicate that passenger car drivers may be equally to blame.

Fortunately, there are some simple measures you can take to avoid becoming another statistic. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration offers some tips that highlight the importance of driving cautiously around semis and large commercial vehicles.

Semi-trucks have unique challenges

18-wheelers and large trucks have special considerations to be aware of:

  • Huge blind spots, known as “No Zones”– Compared to passenger vehicles, truck drivers have a reduced field of vision thanks to multiple blind spots in front and behind their rigs, and along both sides.
  • Wider turning radius – Semi trucks have a turning radius of nearly 55 feet and need extra space to make turns, particularly right hand turns
  • Longer stopping times – An 18-wheeler that is traveling 65 mph will need 200 yards (equivalent to 2 football fields) to stop
  • Reduced maneuverability – Due to the large surface area of the rig, truck drivers have less control over their vehicles during windy conditions. In addition, semis have slower reaction times

Tips for safely driving around big trucks

Avoid a potentially dangerous truck crash by following these 5 safety tips:

  1. Never drive in a truck’s No Zones – Remember that if you can’t see the driver’s face in the truck’s side mirror, he can’t see you either. Avoid driving in these blind spots.
  2. Learn to pass safely – Avoid passing tractor trailers on a downgrade and always try and pass on the left side. Put your turn signal on early and make sure you see the driver in the mirror before passing
  3. Stay back and allow extra space – Large commercial vehicle need extra space and time to stop, slow down and turn. Maintain a safe distance (10 car length gap) and never tailgate
  4. Don’t cut in too close – Heavy trucks take 40 percent longer to stop than the average vehicle. Allow ample space when merging or changing lanes to avoid a crash.
  5. Maintain a consistent speed around large trucks and be sure to adjust according to weather and road conditions

By understanding the operational limitations of large trucks, passenger vehicle drivers can exercise more caution and avoid potentially dangerous situations.

Free consult with California truck accident lawyers

Ellis Law truck accident attorneys represent personal injury victims throughout Southern California. If you or a loved one was seriously harmed in a commercial vehicle crash, we invite you to reach out for a free case evaluation. Call our Los Angeles headquarters today at 310-641-3335.  

Additional Resources for Driving Safely Near Large Trucks:

  1. FMCSA, Tips for Driving Safely Around Large Trucks or Buses https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/ourroads/tips-driving-safely-around-large-trucks-or-buses
  2. Life Hacker, A Trucker’s Best Safety Tips for Driving Around a Big Rig on the Highway http://lifehacker.com/a-truckers-best-safety-tips-for-driving-around-a-big-ri-1734797722
  3. State Farm, Safely Share the Road with Large Trucks https://www.statefarm.com/simple-insights/safety/safely-share-the-road-with-large-trucks