Semi-trucks are an unavoidable presence on America’s roadways. These huge 18-wheelers may take up a lot of space on the highway, but their work is essential to moving the U.S. economy forward. Americans everywhere have a responsibility to take extra care when sharing the road with commercial vehicles.
Thankfully, licensed drivers already have the skillset needed to interact with these intimidating vehicles safely.
Seven tips for sharing the road with big trucks
Drivers in other cars cause around 75% of commercial truck accidents. Many accidents can trace their cause to a driver’s misunderstanding of trucks. Semis have limited mobility and slower reaction times. Drivers who want to make the roads a safer space for truckers can follow these tips:
- Defensive driving: Drivers who remain aware and alert behind the wheel make the roads safer for all vehicles. Semis are massive vehicles that are slow to react to changing road conditions. Keep in mind the weather, traffic patterns and signaling.
- Quick passing: When driving along U.S. highways, motorists will likely pass several semi-trucks. Giving truck drivers a wide berth and speeding up while passing will provide them a comfortable space to operate their vehicle safely.
- Blind-spot avoidance: Most semis have diagrams outlining the blind spots surrounding the truck. A good driver will avoid these spots and position themselves so truck drivers can easily see their car.
- Keeping a safe distance: Drivers prioritizing safety will keep at least a four-second following distance behind semi-trucks. Trucks need a lot of space to maneuver, so anticipate what they might need to do in an emergency.
- Consistent signaling: Give truckers extra time to spot signals and respond to maneuvers. Many truck drivers will make noticeable adjustments to their driving when they notice another vehicle’s intention.
- Do not use bright lights: Using one’s bright lights at night is necessary for safe travel. However, if these beams hit truck mirrors, they could cause up to two seconds of delay in a trucker’s reaction time. Take care to dim bright lights whenever another vehicle is nearby.
- Do not cut trucks off: Semis can take up to 200 yards to come to a full stop when driving at highway speeds. Safe drivers make sure they can see the entire front end of the semi before merging.
Seek legal protection as well
Drivers involved in a crash with a semi can reach out to a local lawyer familiar with motor vehicle law to assess their case. An attorney can examine case law, work with insurance adjusters and help settle suits.