Many drivers, regardless of age or experience, are nervous when driving in the proximity of a tractor trailer. There is good reason for this, as tractor trailers can weigh up to 40 tons – more than 20 times heavier than the average car.
There’s no shortage of them, either. According to State Farm, there are more than 11 million tractor trailers in the United States alone, traveling nearly 300 billion miles every year. With the high prevalence and danger of these vehicles (you are about seven times more likely to be fatally injured in a tractor trailer accident than a standard car crash), it is important that you do everything in your power to keep safe.
Here are a few tips to help you out:
- Stay out of the “no zone”. Due to their massive size, tractor trailers have blind spots that are significantly larger than a normal car, or even pickup truck. These blind spots are located on both sides of the truck, at the rear, and the point where the truck connects to the trailer. Do everything in your power to stay out of these “no zones”. A good rule of thumb: if you can’t see the driver in the truck’s side-view mirrors, he can’t see you.
- Keep a safe distance. Because of their excess weight, tractor trailers require 20-40% longer than the average car before they come to a complete stop. Whether you are driving behind or in front of a tractor trailer, do your best to keep about 20 car lengths of distance between the vehicles.
- Understand the turning radius. Bigger trucks take wider turns. Beware of these large turning radii when next to a truck at an intersection. Always let the truck go first in order to avoid getting squeezed and potentially hit or ran off the road.
- Pull off of the road safely. If your vehicle becomes impaired on the highway, it is always best to pull off at the nearest rest stop or exit, if you can. However, if your vehicle can’t make it that far and you must pull off onto the shoulder, make sure your car is completely off of the road so you don’t get side-swiped by an oncoming truck. You should also put on your hazards lights and use road flares (if you have any) to alert drivers of your presence.
- Practice defensive driving. As always, the best way to avoid an accident is by being a defensive driver. Practicing good habits such as obeying the speed limit, keeping a safe following distance, using your turn signals, and avoiding road rage will always reduce your risk of an accident.
If you have been involved in a tractor trailer accident, it is imperative that you find yourself a good personal injury attorney – and fast! Accidents involving trucks are more complicated than other auto wrecks, and usually involve out-of-state drivers and corporate lawyers. Since timing in these so cases is so critical, the personal injury attorneys at Stewart Law Offices, LLC are available for 24/7 consultation. If you live in North Carolina or South Carolina and have been involved in a tractor trailer accident, pick up the phone and call (888) 286-5600.