The idea of being in a truck accident is frightening. A fully loaded tractor-trailer generally weighs around 80,000 pounds. The average car weighs just 4,000 pounds. Of the 37,133 fatal accidents in a recent year, over 13 percent of them involved at least one large truck or bus. In accidents with large trucks, 72 percent of fatalities are the occupants of the other vehicle.
Truck drivers get distracted, tired, or even reckless. Brake, vehicle, or tire failure may cause accidents. But many truck accidents are avoidable. Defensive driving in specific ways can make an accident with a truck less likely. Below, we cover four ways to prevent truck accidents.
What Are Some Ways to Prevent Truck Accidents?
Defensive driving is key to preventing truck accidents. Defensive driving is learning to identify and predict potential problems and respond strategically to them. Four defensive driving strategies that can help you avoid truck accidents are listed below.
Don’t Drive in Blind Spots
A safe rule of thumb to identify a truck’s blind spots is that if you cannot see the driver in the truck’s mirrors, the driver cannot see you. A truck driver’s blind spots are generally in the following areas:
- On the passenger side, going over two lanes and back to the rear of the trailer
- On the driver’s side, going over one lane and back about half the trailer
- At least 30 feet behind the trailer
- at least 20 feet in front of the truck
It’s safest to pass a truck on the driver’s side. Truck drivers should only drive in the left lane on a highway when passing. It is generally a good defensive driving tactic to wait for a truck to pull into the right lane and then to pass the truck on the left.
Use Defensive Space Around a Truck
Trucks can be prone to sudden and unexpected problems. A tire blowout can cause large chunks of the tire to fly off and hit nearby objects, including cars. High winds can sometimes cause a truck to swerve unexpectedly, jackknife, or even roll over. Trucks also may have to brake suddenly, and if you are following too closely, you may slide under the truck’s rear. These are among the reasons to maintain safe space around a truck.
Try to limit the amount of time you drive near a truck. Trucks limit your visibility ahead of or around you. When you are behind a truck, maintain a following distance of at least four seconds behind it. An excellent way to test this space is to start counting when the truck passes a mile marker and count. Four seconds is the reaction time you need to help avoid an accident.
Watch Out for Turning Trucks
Trucks need more room to turn than cars do and blind spots make turning more difficult. Trucks can take up two lanes while turning. A truck often needs to turn right from an outside lane and may not see a car to its right on the inside lane. Watch for a truck’s turn signals. Judge the truck’s speed as it approaches the intersection to determine whether the truck is possibly turning.
If a truck is turning right, get away from the truck’s right side. If you are driving defensively, you can help prevent an accident, even if the driver does not see your vehicle.
Use Caution When Pulled Over on the Highway
Trucks take up a lot of space, and some highways have narrower lanes than others. Defensive decision-making can avoid many truck accidents caused when a truck sideswipes or rear-ends a stopped car on a highway. If you need to pull off the highway between exits, wait for a wide shoulder or a designated area. Once off the road, turn on your hazard lights and wait for traffic to pass before opening your driver’s side door.
What You Should Do After a Truck Accident: Call Us
Accidents happen and some just are not preventable – but many are. By utilizing defensive driving techniques, anticipating possible problems, and removing yourself from hazardous situations before an accident, you can reduce your chances of getting into an accident with a commercial truck.
However, sometimes accidents even happen to defensive drivers. If you were injured in a truck accident that wasn’t your fault, we can help. Contact us now. We provide a free initial consultation to evaluate your claim and help inform you of your rights.