Even if you only drive occasionally, you can expect to share the road with large trucks. However, many drivers find it hard to know how to safely navigate when behind, alongside, or in front of trucks. Following some simple rules can make the experience easier and less risky. With the knowledge that truck accidents are more devastating and, on average, deadlier than car accidents, you cannot be too careful when sharing the road with them.
Be Aware of Truck Drivers’ “Blind Zones”
There are several zones around a truck that are hard to see with equipment like mirrors. These zones include the very front of the truck, the left and right sides of the truck, and behind the truck. They can extend as far as 20 or 30 feet depending upon the size and makeup of the truck. Commonly, people refer to these zones as “blind zones” or “blind spots.”
When a car or a smaller vehicle is in a truck driver’s blind zone, the truck driver may not be aware the other motorist is even there. This puts you and your passengers in harm’s way.
Though it is not possible to always stay out of a truck’s blind zone, you should stay in the zone for as little time as you can. That way, you will be less likely to get into an accident with a truck.
Avoid Tailgating Trucks
Trucks are particularly dangerous vehicles to tailgate because of how large they are. If you tailgate while going 60, 65, or 70 miles per hour and the truck stops suddenly, your car could be totaled, leaving you seriously hurt, or even fatally injured. The more distance you put between you and the truck that is “leading,” the safer you will be.
Avoid Keeping Your Car Right in Front of a Truck
While you don’t want to tailgate a truck, stay mindful about not driving directly in front of trucks, either. If you must suddenly brake, the truck driver might not be able to stop in time to avoid driving into or even over your car. To boot, the front of the truck cab can be a blind zone.
Give Trucks Enough Room to Turn
Big rig trucks with one or more containers need plenty of room to make both right and left turns. When a truck in front of you indicates a desire to turn, stay back. You should stop far enough away so the truck can complete its turn unimpeded.
The next time you see a truck make a right turn, take some mental notes. Notice how the cab and container make a tight angle. If your car is stuck between the cab and the container, the container may hit your car. Although left turns tend to be less tight, they still require a generous berth. So be wise and allow the trucks ahead of you to turn naturally.
Pass Trucks Thoughtfully
Trying to pass a truck by making fast lane changes is a recipe for an accident. Always pass trucks quickly but with a lot of control. You do not want to move in front of the truck too rapidly. You must give the truck enough of a chance to see you.
Speaking of seeing you, it will be less of a challenge to know your intent to pass if you pass a truck on the left side. Passing a truck on the right side makes it difficult for the truck driver to know you are going to move in front of the truck. Of course, if you must pass on the right side, give yourself a lot of room between your car and the truck before completing your pass.
Exercise Patience During High Volume Drive Times
Trucks are on the road day and night. Yet they may be more prolific during certain times, such as in the morning or at rush hour. Because trucks are so large and cannot pick up speed on steep hills, you will have to be extra vigilant when driving.
Even if you are feeling irritated by having to slow down occasionally, take heart and have patience. It is far better for you to be prudent than to get into a truck accident.
Minimize All Distractions You Can Control
It is hardly a secret that distracted driving leads to plenty of roadway accidents. When trying to drive safely around a lot of trucks, removing all your distractions can help you become a better driver.
Put away your cellphone or put it on silent. Stop fiddling with the buttons on your dashboard. Forget about trying to eat a snack while you navigate traffic. The fewer distractions you have, the more easily you can respond to other drivers, including truck drivers.
Be On the Lookout for Tire Blowouts
Trucks have multiple tires for a reason: One or more of the tires may blow out at any time. You have no doubt seen lots of truck tire debris on the road.
When a truck tire blows, it can create an instant road hazard. Be cautious and on guard for tire blowouts so you can swerve around any tire remnants
Watch Out for Bad Weather
Nasty weather like ice, snow, sleet, hail, fog, and thunderstorms make driving surfaces and environments dangerous. Never assume that the trucks around you can deal with bad weather any better than you can. Yes, their vehicles are much larger than yours, but a truck can get out of control on a slick road just like a car can.
During or after inclement weather events, always drive with a great deal of caution. Stay alert and be on the lookout for signs that the trucks around you may be having trouble. If you suspect that a truck is sliding around, steer clear of the truck. Sometimes, truck drivers have been known to speed even in bad weather. Resist the urge to do likewise.
Wear a Seatbelt
Having a seatbelt on can be a literal lifesaver if you get into a crash with a truck. Far too many drivers and passengers are significantly hurt because they did not wear seatbelts. Buckling up every time you head out the door improves your chances of survival if you get into an accident.
Stay Within the Lines
It is vitally important that you keep your car within the lines on the highway if you are driving near trucks. A truck driver will need to use up the entire lane most of the time. If you are driving on or across your lane line, you are using up the space that trucks depend upon.
Some newer models of cars have lane assist, a technology that encourages you to remain in the lines. The next time you purchase a car, you may want to ask about this added feature to protect you and your passengers.
What If You Get into a Crash With a Truck?
You try to drive cautiously but still got into an accident with a truck. What should you do?
After exchanging information with the truck driver, make sure to get checked medically. It is not unusual for car drivers who have been in crashes with trucks to suffer extensive injuries from whiplash and other traumatic brain injuries to broken bones and lacerations. Do not assume you are okay just because you feel “normal” after the accident. An accident can create a rush of adrenaline that can mask any pain you might feel for hours.
If you find it difficult to navigate the insurance claims journey after your truck accident, consider working with a truck accident lawyer. That way, you can concentrate on getting better while your lawyer works hard to negotiate the best settlement offer to cover your damages.
Trust a Belmar Truck Accident Lawyer at Ellis Law, P.C. to Provide Advice After a Serious Crash Hurts You or a Loved One
Were you or someone in your family hurt after being in a crash with a truck? Call a Belmar truck accident lawyer at Ellis Law, P.C. Call us today at 732-308-0200 or contact us online. From our Freehold, New Jersey, office we work with clients from locations in New Jersey including Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, Ocean County, East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, and Neptune. We also work with client in Brooklyn and New York, New York.