Truck driving is a perilous occupation. Apart from grueling long-distance drives, truck drivers face bad weather, fatigue, mechanical failures, and unpredictable actions on the part of other drivers. Anything can happen on the road, and an accident involving a truck can turn dangerous quickly.

According to traffic-accident data, drivers of smaller cars and passenger vehicles account for 69 percent of deaths in accidents involving large trucks.

Mindful driving is safer driving

Driving alongside trucks requires a different kind of attention. While the rules of the road are the same, there are added considerations when a truck is present.

The following are tips motorists can heed to make sharing the road with a truck or any other type of large vehicle safer.

  • Stay out of blind spots. Trucks have multiple areas surrounding the driver on all sides where it is difficult to see, as opposed to the two blind spots most smaller vehicles have. Considering that a third of all crashes involving a truck and a car happen when the car is in the truck’s blind spots, avoid them as much as possible.
  • Give trucks space. You should create a space that keeps in mind how much distance it takes for a truck to stop – roughly 300 feet when traveling at 55 miles per hour – versus how much space cars take to stop at the same speed, around 140 feet. Do what you can to create enough distance.
  • Don’t pull out in front of a truck or brake suddenly in front of one under any circumstances. If you need to change lanes or merge in front of a truck, it’s best to wait for the point where both of the truck’s headlights are visible in your rear-view mirror before making the merge. Never pull this maneuver abruptly. For example, cutting in front of a truck at a stoplight can have dire consequences because of the truck’s need for more space to come to a complete stop.
  • Always signal your merges, changes and turns early. This ensures that the truck driver is aware of your intentions with enough advance warning that the truck has time to decelerate or stop.

Most importantly, be patient and attentive. There is too much at stake to risk a collision with an 80,000-pound vehicle because you are in a hurry. Safer, more mindful driving saves lives. It could even save your own.