We see semi-trucks and other large trucks on the road all the time. In fact, it is so often that we do not think twice about it unless they are moving slowly and causing a backup, blocking traffic or simply in the way. Despite these everyday occurrences, it is crucial to remember how dangerous these large vehicles are.
The consequences of a collision with a large truck are usually severe, if not fatal. This is because of the tremendous difference in size (semi-trucks are about 52 feet long and weigh about 80,000 pounds when loaded). This size and weight make them hard to safely operate and give them the ability to flatten a car without much more than a dent to their front end.
Precautions for drivers of smaller vehicles
Like any precaution, there are no guarantees, but these strategies can help those in cars, SUVs and pick-up trucks:
- Hands on the wheel: Grip the steering wheel with both hands if passing or being passed by a semi-trucks – this can prevent being affected by a truck’s wind gust.
- Give them room: Semi-trucks are not as maneuverable as cars, and sometimes they will even roll backward on hills if they are in stop-and-go traffic.
- Do not speed up when they pass: Slow down, let the truck pass and move back over to the right lane – this allows the truck driver to pass safely, keeps cars out of a truck’s blind spot and causes fewer problems for other motorists behind the truck.
- Give them space to change lanes: Trucks on the highway need an eight-second gap or about 700 feet to change lanes safely.
Truckers also need to take precautions
Truck drivers receive training to operate their vehicles properly. Tips for safe operation include:
- Double-check mirrors before making those wide turns
- Signal early and during maneuvers to project intentions to other drivers
- Do not tailgate
- Leave an appropriate amount of space between trucks and other vehicles
- Use designated parking areas or pull entirely off the road
Trucking companies challenge claims
Trucking lines and commercial truck owners pay a lot of money to keep those rigs on the road. It costs more when they cause an accident, so it is not unusual for their lawyer to show up at a crash site before the wreckage is cleared. Some will even try to get statements from victims involved in the crash.
Those injured serve their own best interests by working with a personal injury attorney who can protect clients from insurance companies and trucking lines. The attorney can also help secure compensation that the injured and their families need and deserve.