Avoiding Collisions with Semi-Trucks and Large Vehicles

If your family is planning a road trip this summer, be prepared to share the highways with large trucks and other large vehicles. There are more large trucks on the roads now than ever before. Currently, there are 12 million commercial motor vehicles registered to operate on American’s roadways.  As a result, collisions with these trucks are not uncommon. But there are some steps you can take to avoid collisions with large trucks.

Collisions with Large Trucks are More Dangerous than Cars

Crashes with semi-trucks and buses are especially dangerous. The size and weight of these vehicles dwarf that of the average vehicle on the road. For instance, a typical semi-trailer weighs 20-30 times more than a passenger vehicle.

People involved in collisions with semi-trailers, large trucks, or buses are often significantly injured or killed.  In 2017, there were 116,000 collisions with large trucks that resulted in injuries. Additionally, 4,455 deaths occurred due to collisions with a large truck or bus. (Source: the National Traffic Safety Administration.)

What are Some of the Risks Associated with Semi-Trucks?

There are several risks associated with driving near large trucks or buses. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) started a program called “Respect the Rig” to address these risks.

Here are some of the primary risks FMCSA recommends drivers consider when near a large truck:

  • Rollovers. Semi-trailers and large buses are at a greater risk of rolling over because of their size and weight distribution.  Rollovers can happen because of strong wind, taking a corner too quickly, or improperly loaded cargo.
  • Wide Turns. Large trucks and buses need to take wider turns to avoid curbs, light poles, or other objects near the side of the road. Make sure to give trucks plenty of space to complete their turns. Don’t try to squeeze by a large turning vehicle or block space at an intersection in front of a truck. The truck may be preparing for a turn and driving quickly into that space may lead to a collision.
  • Tire Blowouts. Large trucks and large buses often blow out their tires and the shredded fragments are left on the road. Drivers can avoid road debris by allowing plenty of space behind other vehicles, particularly large trucks.
  • Large Blind Spots. Some large trucks and buses have large areas behind them and next to them where the driver cannot see other vehicles. Do not drive in these blind spots.

How to Avoid Collisions with Large Trucks

Drivers can take a few simple steps to avoid collisions with large trucks.

  • Pass on the Left. While drivers should always pass on the left, this is even more of a safety concern when passing large trucks. As a reminder, large trucks have larger blind spots. When passing a truck, always pass quickly and on the left.
  • Do not Cutoff a Truck or Bus. Remember, it takes large trucks and buses longer to stop. For instance, a fully-loaded truck traveling at 65 mph will need 200 yards to come to a complete stop. You increase the change of a collision if you cutoff a truck and then have to slow or come to a sudden stop.
  • Let Trucks Pass You. If a truck or bus is attempting to pass, reduce your speed slightly to allow them more room to pass.
  • Be Patient. Remember that larger vehicles will take more time to accelerate from a stopped position at a light. It may take more time for them to achieve top speeds on the highway. Negotiating turns is going to take more time and space. Be a patient and courteous driver. Honking and weaving may create distractions and dangerous situations.

Please do not hesitate to contact our truck accident attorneys at Ladenburg Law if you have questions about collisions with semi-trucks, buses, or other large commercial vehicles.

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