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How to safely share the road with tractor-trailers

Interstate highways were designed for efficient and safe travel. However, accidents happen. Commuters in the Leigh Valley know that I-78 is no stranger to tractor-trailer accidents. A collision with a tractor-trailer is devastating and can lead to lifelong consequences or even death.

The American Trucking Association (ATA) prides itself on safety and actively promotes safeguards in the trucking industry. Fatal crashes involving heavy trucks dipped in 2009, but today, the numbers are up considerably. Staying safe on roads, highways and interstates must be a priority of all drivers.

There are things you can do as a motorist to protect yourself from the danger of a collision with a tractor-trailer. Here’s how you can keep yourself and your passengers safe on the road:

Avoid blind spots

Tractor-trailer blind spots are in the following locations:

  • Directly in front of the truck. A truck driver cannot see for nearly 20 feet in front of the vehicle. Allow for plenty of room so the driver can see your rear lights.
  • Both sides of the truck. A tractor-trailer’s blind spot extends backward 45 degrees from the angle of the cab. Avoid driving on the sides of the truck whenever possible.
  • Directly behind the truck. Tractor trailers don’t have rear-view mirrors. As a result, they have a blind spot that extends approximately 200 feet from the truck’s rear end.

Knowing where these blind spots can improve your visibility and help you maneuver safely around tractor-trailers.

Keep your distance

A fully loaded tractor-trailer traveling at 65 miles per hour would take about 525 feet to stop, compared to a passenger vehicle, which would take about 300 feet to stop. The ATA recommends leaving about 20 to 25 car lengths in between you and a truck up ahead. A good rule of thumb is to ensure that you can see the truck’s side mirrors.

Passing safely

Pass with care by recognizing blind spots. If you can’t see the mirrors of a semi, the driver can’t see you. Because the most prominent blind spot for a semi driver is on the right of the truck, it’s important to pass on the left.

The best way to avoid an accident is to follow the rules of the road. However, traveling near tractor-trailers can present dangers to even the most careful drivers. Learning how to share the roads safely with tractor-trailers can prevent wrecks and save lives.

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