Sharing the Road Safely with Large Trucks
Tips from Houston injury attorneys Neal Davis & Jed Silverman on how to avoid a semi or 18-wheeler truck accident.
Trucking is a major part of the economy not only in Texas, but nationwide. An estimated 70% of freight tonnage in the U.S. is transported by truck. Without trucks, our economy would come to a standstill.
According the U.S. Department of Transportation, there were more than 133 million private and commercial trucks in the United States in 2012.
Considering this huge number and the fact that trucks can be loaded down with as much as 80,000 pounds of cargo weight, making it more difficult to accelerate and decelerate than average vehicles, it’s no wonder why so many serious accidents occur each year between trucks and other vehicles.
Regardless of the driver’s ability and competence, driving in proximity to a big rig truck can be a frightening experience due to a number of factors pertaining to the truck itself, including:
- Weight difference
- Prolonged stopping distance
- Multiple blind spots
- Spray and splash on your windshield
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Safe Driving Tips
Trucks are such a vital part of our economy and necessary to society; however, they also present many dangers to other drivers. Truck accidents are one of the most common and deadly traffic accidents that occur in Texas and the United States.
As a result, it is necessary for drivers to learn how to share the road with trucks and observe the safety tips listed below.
When passing trucks on the interstate or highway, be sure to take extra care by passing on the left side for maximum visibility and maintaining a consistent speed. After passing, only shift lanes once the entire truck appears in your rearview mirror. Trucks take at least twice as long as regular cars to stop (sometimes more if carrying a full cargo load), so a truck might not have time to stop if you cut in front and brake suddenly.
Avoid Lingering in “No Zones” and Blind Spots
Due to the size of trucks, there are four large blind spots where other cars disappear from the truck driver’s view. These “no zones” are located at the truck’s rear, front and sides. One-third of fatal car accidents involving trucks occur in one of these zones. Avoid lingering in blind spots as much as possible.
Leave Enough Space
In addition to driving a safe distance behind trucks, it is important to allow enough space between a trailer and the curb when truck drivers are preparing to turn. If you mistakenly rush into the space made when a truck “swings wide,” you might get sideswiped or lodged between the curb and the trailer.
Leave at least four car lengths between your car and the truck at all times. Passenger vehicles are nearly three times more likely to rear-end large trucks than the other way around. Following a truck too closely obstructs your view of the road and also makes it difficult for the truck driver to see you.
Lower Your Brights
At night, be sure to dim your headlights when approaching a truck from the rear or head-on. Bright headlights can reflect off a truck’s large side mirrors and temporarily blind the driver. At 55 mph, a blinded truck driver can travel more than half the length of a football field in just 2 seconds.
Large trucks require more time to slow down, change lanes or stop, so drivers should signal sooner than they normally would when decelerating or turning in front of a truck.
Lastly, be sure to pay attention to your surroundings anytime you are behind the wheel, but especially when driving near trucks. Distractions like your cell phone, food/beverage and even other passengers can be deadly serious if they cause you to get into an accident with a truck.
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When You Need a Truck Accident Attorney
Of course, sometimes an accident with a truck will happen even if you obey all the safety tips listed above. The truck driver may have acted negligently by operating his rig while drowsy, distracted or intoxicated, or a trucking company may have failed to provide adequate training or vehicle maintenance. In these situations, an injured individual or the family members of a person killed in a crash may file a personal injury lawsuit to seek damages for truck accident negligence.
If you’re in need of legal help regarding your Texas truck & tractor trailer accident case, schedule a free consultation with the Houston injury attorney team of Neal Davis and Jed Silverman today. With nearly 40 years of combined legal experience, they are familiar with the complexity of truck accident cases and can ensure your case has the best possible outcome. With our No Fee Unless We Win Guarantee, you don’t pay a penny unless we win your case.