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How to Avoid Truck Accidents (as a Motorist)

Ways to limit the changes of a collision with a tractor trailer.

In 2020, the number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes in the US was nearly 5,000

Nobody wants to get in a car wreck, especially not with a truck. Truck accidents are extra dangerous because of their size, power, and the type of cargo they carry (e.g. toxic or flammable liquids). A single truck accident can be devastating.

Victims of a truck accident should consult an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible. They’ll help protect your rights and ensure you find the best resolution.

But of course, it’s best to avoid getting in an accident with a truck in the first place. 

That’s why it’s important for car drivers like you to learn how to drive around trucks safely. To do that, follow these tips:

Give trucks plenty of space

Commercial trucks are much larger than regular cars. So you need to give them plenty of space on the road. Not doing so could block your view and make it hard for them to see you as well. 

As a rule of thumb, you should give trucks a following distance of at least four seconds (instead of the regular three). Find a visual marker up ahead and start counting once the truck passes it. If you’ve reached the visual marker by the time you get to four, you’re too close.

Stay out of truck drivers’ blind spots

Commercial trucks have more blindspots than regular cars do. That means you need to avoid driving close to them as much as you can and be extra cautious when you do. If you can’t see the truck driver in their side mirrors, they probably can’t see you either.

Pass trucks with caution

Passing trucks can be dangerous. Why? Truck drivers can’t slow down very fast so you need to give yourself plenty of time to get in front of them. Plus, if a truck has a tire blowout or causes an accident as you pass, your car could get hit.

To avoid getting in an accident while passing a truck, don’t pass them if there’s little space, you’re going up- or downhill, or you’re on the right side. Pass on the left and use proper turn signals to show the truck driver your intentions. That gives them more time to react and slow down if needed.

When you do pass a truck, pass quickly so you spend as little time as possible driving directly next to the truck. Then don’t merge back into the truck’s lane until you can see the full truck in your rearview mirror.

Be careful when a truck is turning

Anytime you see a truck turning, you should be on guard. Trucks need more clearance to turn than regular cars do (often, they take up two lanes), and you don’t want to be in their way. So give turning trucks ample space. When in doubt, always err on the side of more space, not less.

Lower your brights

You should never have your brights on near other cars, but especially not near trucks. Brights tend to blind truck drivers. Even if you are coming up from behind, the light reflects in their large side view mirrors and can make it difficult for them to see.

Eliminate distractions

In 2020, distracted driving killed 3,142 people. Don’t let distractions cause you to crash into a truck.

While driving, you shouldn’t be texting, eating, drinking, messing with the stereo or GPS, or doing anything else that takes your mind off the road.

Anticipate weather conditions

Bad weather increases the chance of you getting into a car accident with a truck (and will make the accident worse, too). So avoid driving in the rain, snow, or stormy weather as much as you can by checking the weather forecast.

Merge carefully

Lastly, merge carefully by using clear turn signals and waiting until you have ample space to do so. Also, don’t try to get in front of a truck if traffic is coming to a stop since trucks take longer to slow down and it’s harder for truck drivers to see directly in front of them.

The bottom line

As a driver, you can’t fully eliminate the risk of getting into a car accident with a truck. It’s part of driving. But you can lower the risk by following the tips above. Remember them the next time you’re driving next to trucks and you’ll be better off.

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