Crashes involving semitrailers can be devastating. They can destroy property and cause life-altering injuries or death. Because of the significant size and weight differences between semitrailers and passenger vehicles, most of the deaths in large truck crashes occur to occupants of passenger vehicles. Although truck drivers have strict rules to follow to help keep motorists safe, safety is a responsibility everyone on the road must share.
What causes this type of crash?
Some crashes between semitrailers and passenger vehicles are caused by the truck driver’s negligent actions. This could include driving longer than federal service regulations allow, speeding or not properly securing a load. Other crashes are caused by the operating restrictions of semitrailers or the actions of other drivers who do not understand that semitrailers have these operating restrictions.
Three semitrailer operating restrictions that motorists should be aware of, include the:
- Large blind spots on all four sides that limit a trucker’s ability to see other vehicles
- Long distances that are required to stop, especially on declining slopes, in inclement weather or when brakes are poorly maintained
- Wide turns necessary to successfully turn the vehicle
Safe habits when driving next to semitrailers
When you are sharing the road with semitrailers, there are several driving habits that can help keep you and your passengers safe. One of the most important habits is to stay out of the truck’s blind spots whenever possible. Generally, if you cannot see the driver’s face in the truck’s mirror, it is safe to assume the driver cannot see you. Additionally, it can be beneficial to avoid following too closely behind a truck or merging too closely in front of one because blind spots extend behind and in front of the truck as well as on both sides.
Another good habit is to pass safely when you must pass a semitrailer. To do this, make sure you can see the driver’s face in the truck mirror, signal your intentions clearly, move into the lane to the left of the truck and pass swiftly to avoid lingering where the driver cannot see you. Then, allow plenty of space between you and the truck before merging back in front of it.
Anticipating wide turns can also help prevent you being in a crash with a semitrailer. Truck drivers must swing wide or start a turn from a middle lane to successfully complete a turn. Never squeeze between a turning truck and the curb, and try to always stop behind the stop line at intersections.
Finally, be patient with trucks on the road. It takes semitrailers longer to accelerate and to stop. Truck drivers also have stricter ruled to abide by than other motorists do, and it may take them time to follow proper safety procedures on the road. Honking or driving aggressively can be distracting to the truck driver and other motorists.
Although there are several habits you can adopt to help minimize the chance of being involved in a crash with a semitrailer, some crashes are caused by the negligent actions of truck drivers or other motorists. If you have been seriously injured in a crash involving a semitrailer, it may be appropriate to take legal action. You may be able to receive compensation for your medical expenses and other costs associated with your injury.