Commercial semi-trucks can present a real danger on this country’s roadways, primarily because of their size and power. Dallas truck accident attorneys know that any time a vehicle of this size is involved in an accident with a smaller vehicle, there isn’t much doubt as to which vehicle will get the worst of it.
That means it’s very important for motorists operating a smaller vehicle to observe safe practices when driving anywhere around semi-trucks, so they can do their part to avoid accidents.
Dallas truck accident attorneys like those at The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare have witnessed the severe damage that can occur when semi-trucks hit small vehicles. There have been more than a few cases where litigation was necessary to help victims secure money to cover the costs of medical bills, lost wages, and more.
To avoid all the hassle of potential injuries, damage to your vehicle, and the hassle of litigation, you should practice some of the safe driving tips described below whenever you happen to be around semi-trucks.
Use Extra Caution When Passing a Tractor Trailer
The largest blind spot that any semi-truck has is to the vehicle’s right and rear, which can actually span multiple lanes. That’s one good reason for you to always pass a semi-truck on the left-hand side so that you are always clearly visible to the driver.
Of course, you’ll need to make sure that you have enough time to safely make the pass you intend. Never cut off a semi-truck, and in fact, you should always allow extra space before turning back into your original lane. While it’s true that you should be traveling faster than the semi-truck, you’ll still need to leave enough distance between you and the truck so that you can merge safely back to that lane.
Keep in mind that it takes a semi-truck approximately 40% longer to come to a halt than an average-sized vehicle. So if you were to cut off a semi-truck without providing adequate space before cutting over, you could create a very dangerous situation, with the semi-truck unable to stop in time.
To be perfectly safe, make sure you see both of the trucks’ headlights in your rearview mirror prior to cutting over into the same lane.
Know and Avoid a Semi-Truck’s Blind Spots
You might not be aware of this, but semi-trucks have several blind spots, and some of these are different than average vehicles might have. Whenever possible, you should avoid driving on the semi-truck driver’s side, going back about half the length of the truck’s trailer.
It’s also good to avoid being less than 20 feet in front of any semi-truck because if it becomes necessary for the truck driver to stop, they might be unable to bring the truck to a halt in time.
For the same reason, it’s good to make sure that you are more than 30 feet behind a semi-truck because it will not be able to brake quickly enough for you to avoid rear-ending it if any traffic situation develops ahead. Driving on the right side of any semi-truck is always a risky prospect because that is the single worst blind spot for any semi-truck driver, and chances are, you won’t be seen.
Suppose the driver of the semi-truck cannot find you in his/her rearview mirrors or side-view mirrors. In that case, the driver won’t be able to compensate for any driving issues you cause and will be virtually oblivious to what you happen to be doing.
Keep in mind that if you can’t see the truck’s side mirrors, it’s a virtual certainty that the driver won’t be able to see you. By avoiding all these possible blind spots, you’ll give yourself a much better opportunity of staying safe when you’re on the roadway next to a semi-truck.
Use Proper Turn Signals
When you make any kind of lane change or before you intend to pass a semi-truck, you should make sure to provide clear signals so that the truck driver can be aware of your intentions and anticipate your actions.
It’s also a good idea to make use of your turn signal sooner than you normally would so that the semi-truck driver has sufficient time to make any necessary adjustments to their driving. When you make sudden lane changes or do any kind of sudden adjustments on the roadway, the semi-truck driver may not have adequate time to adjust to your new circumstances or your new position, and a collision may be the result.
Allow Plenty of Space Between Your Vehicle and the Big Rig
You should never tailgate a semi-truck because it’s entirely possible the driver can’t see you; a good rule of thumb is to maintain ten car lengths between you and the semi-truck.
Another wise course of action would be to try to avoid driving next to a semi-truck for any extended length of time. Driving close to a truck like this will always increase the risk of any kind of accident, simply by being in close proximity. For instance, there’s always a possibility that the truck might experience a tire blowout, and any flying remnants might easily hit your vehicle or your windshield and cause an accident.
If a semi-truck driver is forced to brake suddenly, it’s entirely possible that you might slide directly under the truck, or you may hit the vehicle and cause it to lose control or tip over.
In any situation where high winds are in effect, it’s very possible that a semi-truck might be subject to a rollover, and if you’re anywhere around it, you are likely to be involved in the resulting accident.
If you’re forced to drive in close proximity to a semi-truck for some period of time due to traffic conditions, make sure to maintain a safe following distance which is equivalent to at least four seconds (or ten car lengths).
Also, allow plenty of space for a commercial truck that is turning because they may need two lanes when executing a wide turn. You should never pass a semi-truck that is turning on the right because while you might see a gap between the front and rear wheels of the truck, it’s possible that you could get trapped in the space between the truck and the curb.
Don't Use Bright Lights
If you have your bright lights on, these may reflect off the large side mirrors on a semi-truck and cause the driver to be blinded. It’s always better if you have your low beams on whenever you are near a semi-truck or any other vehicle, for that matter.
Wait until you have pulled over or have reached your destination to use cell phones.
Involved in an Accident with a Semi-Truck? Contact Dallas Truck Accident Attorneys at The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare
No one ever anticipates getting into a significant crash involving a semi-truck. However, they do happen. If you or someone you know has been injured in a semi-truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation that can help relieve some of the financial burden caused by medical bills or replacing your vehicle. Contact us to learn more.
Experienced Dallas truck accident attorneys can help you receive the funds you deserve to keep your life moving forward as you recover.