10 Safety Tips for Driving Around Trucks

truck in traffic on highwayDriving around commercial trucks can be dangerous, so always take extra precautions. The risk of an accident increases with these vehicles because they have larger blind spots, cannot maneuver as easily, and take longer to stop compared to passenger vehicles.

1. Avoid Blind Spots

Big rigs and other large vehicles have much larger blind-spot areas than traditional passenger vehicles:

  • One lane wide on the driver’s side, extending back to about half the length of the trailer
  • Two lanes wide on the right side, extending back slightly behind the trailer
  • 20 feet in front of the truck
  • 30 feet behind the truck

Always avoid driving in a truck's blind spot. Move ahead of the truck or slow down so the driver can see you in the side mirrors.

Commercial trucks have larger mirrors than passenger vehicles that can be affected by bright headlights. When you drive behind a truck, dim your lights to a standard low-beam setting as you approach to avoid blinding the driver through his or her mirrors.

2. Practice Safe Passing

It is always wise to pass another vehicle safely. However, careful passing is even more important near a commercial truck, because the large, heavy vehicle cannot stop as quickly as a passenger vehicle. Truck drivers need time to react and adjust their speed and brake accordingly.

When passing a large truck, always approach from the left side, because it is easier for the driver to see you. Keep a consistent speed while passing and always signal clearly and in advance. Before you merge back into the lane in front of the truck, make sure you can see it in your rearview mirror to ensure a safe distance.

When a truck passes you, slow down to allow plenty of space in front of you for the driver to maneuver safely and efficiently.

3. Allow More Time

When you change lanes or turn near a commercial truck, activate your signal earlier to give the driver more time to respond to your intended maneuver and slow down if needed.

When merging, avoid moving into the lane in front of a large truck if upcoming traffic could slow down or stop abruptly. Trucks take longer to slow down, and a sudden lane change may not give the driver enough time to avoid crashing into your bumper.

4. Increase Following Distance

Always keep a driving distance of at least four seconds between your vehicle and a commercial truck. If you are tailgating a big rig, the driver cannot see you. If you cannot stop in time or are rear-ended while traveling closely behind a large truck, your car may be pushed underneath the trailer -- a type of collision that tends to be catastrophic.

Keeping a safe distance will also give you more time to react to tire blowouts and rollovers caused by high winds. If you are in stopped traffic behind a truck, leave space between your vehicle and the truck, in case the truck begins to roll backward.

5. Watch for Wide Turns

Semi-trailer trucks take more room than passenger cars to make turns, and the cab and trailer both follow a different path. A truck may need to swing left to gain room for a right turn or may start a turn from the middle lane of traffic.

Do not attempt to pass a truck that has a turn signal on, and do not drive between the truck and the curb. When at a stop at an intersection, make sure your vehicle is safely behind the line, because trucks need that space to make turns.

6. Drive Patiently

Be patient when sharing the road with semi-trailer trucks. Truck drivers have strict operating rules to follow and often use regulating devices, such as a speed limiter which restricts vehicle speed. Honking, aggressive driving, or maneuvering through traffic will not encourage a commercial driver to speed up. Instead, it could put you in danger of causing an accident.

7. Wear Your Seat Belt

Not only is wearing your seat belt the law in California, it can keep you safer should you be involved in an accident. Always buckle kids in the back seat, in approved car seats if applicable.

8. Stay Focused

Distracted drivers put everyone in danger. Avoid using GPS systems, cellphones and other devices while driving. Do not eat, adjust the radio or perform other actions that will take your eyes and concentration off the road.

By staying focused on driving, you will be better able to estimate the speed of trucks around you as they merge, turn or change lanes, allowing you to respond appropriately.

9. Do Not Drive Drowsy

Driving while drowsy and fatigued is dangerous. If you are tired, get off the road and rest. When on long trips, allow time for rest breaks or have another driver who can relieve you when you become tired.

10. Do Not Drive Under the Influence

Alcohol and drugs impair your reaction time and judgement – a deadly combination when driving. Even over-the-counter or prescription medications can cause side effects that make driving dangerous. Never drive under the influence of these substances.

Call Our Truck Accident Lawyers for Assistance

Not only do trucking accidents tend to be more severe than passenger vehicle accidents, they are often more complicated, as well. There may be multiple parties who are liable for the damages you have suffered.

If you have been injured in a collision with a big rig, contact the Sacramento truck accident attorneys of the Arnold Law Firm. We will investigate your claim and inform you of the legal options that are available. If you have a case, we are prepared to pursue fair compensation for your personal injuries.

Working with an injury lawyer from the Arnold Law Firm can mean that we will help protect your rights as you pursue compensation for your injuries. Our truck accident lawyers know trucking laws and how commercial trucking operations work. We will investigate your case, identify potentially liable parties and help you recover the compensation you deserve for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Request a free, no obligation consultation and learn what options may be available when pursuing legal action. Our attorneys work on contingency, so there are no upfront fees – we are only paid if we recover compensation in your case.

Call (916) 777-7777 or complete our Free Case Evaluation form now.