10 Tips for Staying Safe while Driving near Big Trucks

Posted in Truck Wreck on June 28, 2018

If you drive on Nashville’s highways and interstates, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter several semi-trucks during your trip. Big trucks are essential for the state and national economy, but they can be extremely dangerous during accidents due to their size and weight.

Because of the dangers that tractor-trailers pose to people in passenger vehicles, the trucking industry is heavily regulated to make it as safe as possible. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the primary governing body for the industry in the U.S., and it’s responsible for making sure truck drivers, truck companies, and truck owners comply with a host of safety regulations.

However, it’s important for drivers in cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs to always drive defensively around big trucks. FMCSA regulations aren’t always followed, and that means some big trucks are 80,000-pounds accidents just waiting to happen. Expect the unexpected when driving near big trucks, and never assume that all aspects of the truck or its driver would pass an FMCSA inspection.

Trucks Are Uniquely Dangerous during Crashes

The average passenger vehicles weigh between 4,000 pounds and 6,000 pounds. Big trucks, on the other hand, can weigh around 20 times more than that. At Matt Hardin Law, our Nashville truck accident lawyers know the devastation and destruction that big trucks cause when they’re involved in crashes with smaller vehicles.

The best way to keep yourself and your loved ones safe while driving near big trucks is to follow these tips from the FMCSA and other safety organizations:

  1. Avoid truck blind spots—Because of their elevated cabins and extreme length, big trucks have huge blind spots that are much bigger than those on other passenger vehicles. Known as “No-Zones,” they include the area that’s 20 feet in front of the driver, the area 30 feet behind the truck’s trailer, one lane directly underneath the driver side door, and 2 lanes underneath the passenger side door.
  2. Be cautious and safe when passing trucks—Trucks can be slow to accelerate or reach the speed limit of highways and interstates. When you’re in a hurry, the last thing you want to do is sit behind a slow truck that you can’t see around. But passing trucks can be dangerous, as they require significantly more room and distance to slow down or stop than other vehicles. Only pass when you have plenty of room to do so and won’t have to stop soon after, and never pass in heavy traffic or on a downgrade.
  3. Don’t follow trucks too closely—When you’re driving behind a truck, you may be unable to see what’s going on up ahead. Big trucks can completely obscure your vision, making it difficult or impossible to tell if you’re about to hit heavy traffic, slowdowns, or red lights. And when you follow a truck too closely, you may be unable to slow down or stop in time to avoid a rear-end collision. Keep your distance or change lanes to get out from behind big trucks to improve your visibility and give your vehicle more space to slow down if needed.
  4. Give trucks plenty of room when they turn—Many big trucks have cautionary signage on their backs indicating that their drivers must perform wide turns. Because of the length of their trailers, big trucks must swing out into adjacent lanes before correcting back into their desired lanes of travel. Drivers can put themselves at risk when they turn directly behind trucks into the right lanes of roads, as they can be forced off the road or struck by the truck’s trailer when the driver completes the turn.
  5. Avoid getting boxed in—Sometimes you’ll encounter multiple semi-trucks occupying the same stretch of highway or interstate. Driving near one big truck can be anxiety-inducing for many drivers but driving near two or more can be downright scary. Give trucks room to maneuver when you’re around more than one and do your best to avoid getting boxed in or surrounded by trucks. Change lanes as you approach convoys and be prepared to use safe openings to pass them if necessary.
  6. Increase your level of caution when roads are slick or icy—Big trucks are at the mercy of the elements even more than passenger vehicles. Because of their weight and size, big trucks can be extremely difficult to maneuver and control on roadways that are slick due to rain, snow, and ice. In addition to doing everything you can to reduce your own risks, including reducing your speed, you should also be aware that trucks’ stopping distances significantly increase when roads are slick and jackknifing or hydroplaning become more likely.
  7. Avoid distractions—Distracted driving is a growing epidemic in Tennessee, and thousands of people lose their lives due to distracted driving crashes throughout the U.S. every year. When you’re driving near a big truck, you need all of the focus and concentration you can muster, and anything that takes your attention away from the road, your vehicle, and the vehicles around you can be dangerous. Make phone calls and send text messages before and after your trip—never during it.
  8. Be aware that trucks can move during heavy winds—Although trucks can weigh significantly more than passenger vehicles, they’re even more prone to being pushed around on roadways during heavy winds than other vehicles—especially if their trailers are empty or carrying lightweight cargo. Rain and ice aren’t the only inclement weather that can pose risks for big truck drivers and other motorists, as heavy winds can also push them around the road and even into other lanes with no warning.
  9. Turn off your bright lights—Encountering other drivers with their bright lights on at night can be distracting and even painful for many motorists, but that experience can be dangerous for truck drivers. That’s because bright lights are more prominent when reflected in truck mirrors, which are often much larger and more reflective than the mirrors in passenger vehicles. Keep your bright lights off when driving on highways and interstates at night near big trucks and other cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs.
  10. Use your vehicles lights and signals—Despite traveling in vehicles that are significantly larger than the ones around them, most truck drivers are extremely cautious and are always scanning the road to anticipate the movements of other vehicles. Your lights are the best way to communicate your intentions to other drivers, including truck drivers. Make sure all of your vehicle’s lights are working and aren’t dimmed, and always use your turn signal to indicate when you’re about to turn or change lanes.

Hurt in a Truck Accident that Wasn’t Your Fault? We’re Here to Help.

There are many parties that can share responsibility for truck accidents, including truck drivers, truck owners, truck companies, and even other motorists traveling in cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs.

Truck crashes can cause victims to suffer painful and disabling injuries that can also be life-threatening. If you or someone you love was hurt in a truck accident that was caused by another driver’s negligence, you may need expensive medical treatments that you can’t afford, especially if your injuries prevent you from returning to work.

Call the Nashville truck accident attorneys at Matt Hardin Law today to take the first steps towards the recovery you deserve. You shouldn’t have to pay out of pocket for an accident that wasn’t your fault. Get in touch with our legal team by dialing (615) 200-1111 or filling out an online contact form. We have 30 years of experience fighting for the rights of injured victims like you, and we know what it takes to win.