How Can I Safely Share the Road with a Semi-Truck?September 30, 2022
If you have ever been driving on a busy highway, and you get caught between two massive semi-trucks, it can be very intimidating. Your vehicle can suddenly feel very small and vulnerable when driving next to, or in between, a commercial truck that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. One wrong move can have devastating consequences if a semi-truck crashes into your vehicle. Unfortunately, the average passenger vehicle cannot withstand the force of the impact caused by a large semi-truck. As a result, it is usually the occupants of the passenger vehicle that is hit who suffer the most serious, often fatal personal injuries. However, if you are aware of the risks of sharing the road with large semi-trucks, and you keep some important safety tips in mind, you can avoid a devastating, potentially fatal truck accident. If you are involved in a truck accident, do not hesitate to contact an experienced truck accident lawyer.
How Dangerous Are Semi-Trucks?
Semi-trucks pose a serious safety hazard simply because of their massive size and weight. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are approximately 450,000 truck accidents in the United States every year, and close to 75 percent of the more than 5,000 fatalities involved in these accidents are occupants of the passenger vehicle. Truck accidents are caused by many of the same factors as car accidents, including drowsy driving, distracted driving, and speeding. However, the resulting accident is often far more severe when a fully loaded, 80,000-pound truck hits a passenger vehicle that has an average weight of approximately 3,400 pounds.
Another safety hazard associated with large semi-trucks is the fact that they have very large blind spots, known as “no zones.” This makes it difficult for truck drivers to see other vehicles that are in the vicinity. Motorists have a responsibility to be aware of these hazards and to take the necessary steps to avoid a truck’s blind spots. A good rule to follow is if you cannot see the truck driver’s face in the side mirror, they cannot see you. Always avoid the following blind spots:
- Directly in front of the truck: Since large trucks are much higher off the ground than a passenger vehicle, a truck driver may not be able to see your car if you are driving directly in front of the truck. Make sure that you are at least 20 feet ahead of the truck at all times. This is important because large trucks require significantly more distance to come to a complete stop. If you come to an abrupt stop and you are in the truck’s blind spot, this could result in a devastating read-end accident.
- Directly behind the truck: If you are driving directly behind a truck, and you do not maintain a following distance of at least 30 feet, the truck driver will not be able to see you. If the truck stops suddenly, you may not be able to avoid a rear-end accident. Even though most trucks are equipped with rear underride guards, you could suffer serious, potentially catastrophic injuries.
- Both sides of the truck: Semi-trucks have large blind spots on both sides of the truck. However, the blind spot on the right side of the truck can run the entire side of the truck and can extend out for more than three lanes. Therefore, you should avoid driving next to a truck, particularly on the right side.
How Can I Avoid a Truck Accident?
Although the occupants of the passenger vehicles are often the ones who suffer the most severe injuries where a truck accident occurs, these devastating accidents are often caused by the driver in the passenger vehicle, and not the truck driver. In fact, one study found that a staggering 80 percent of all truck accidents involving small vehicles were caused by the driver in the passenger vehicle. Many of these tragic accidents can be avoided if motorists keep safety a top priority, particularly when they are sharing the road with a large semi-truck. The following are examples of proactive steps you can take to avoid a serious truck accident:
- Maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and the truck. In addition to the fact that trucks have large blind spots, they also make extremely wide turns. Never attempt to pass a truck that is making a turn, as you are at an increased risk of getting caught between the truck and the curb or stuck underneath the truck. Driving too close to the truck also increases the risk of being involved in a devastating crash if the following occurs:
– The truck brakes suddenly, causing your vehicle to slide under the truck or getting crushed by the truck if it tips over.
– High winds can cause semi-trucks to rollover.
– Tire blowouts can cause the truck driver to lose control of the truck, causing it to crash into your vehicle if you are in the vicinity of the truck.
- Use extreme caution when passing a truck. Trucks require significantly more time and road space to stop and navigate through traffic, so you must be extremely careful when attempting to pass a truck, and you should avoid passing on the right altogether. If you are up or down a hill, do not try to pass a truck, since they are often increasing or decreasing their speed. If a truck’s brakes fail or there is a loss of traction when a truck is traveling down a hill, this can quickly become a very dangerous situation, and you should put as much distance between you and the truck as possible.
- Avoid distractions. All motorists must keep their attention focused on the road and avoid distractions at all times. However, this is particularly important when driving on a busy highway, or any roadway where you are likely to be sharing the road with a semi-truck. Truck drivers are just as guilty of distracted driving as other drivers, even though this is one of the most common causes of catastrophic truck accidents. Although you cannot control the driving behavior of truck drivers, you can take proactive steps to avoid talking on the phone, reading, sending a text message, or other common distractions that take your attention off the road.
- Adjust your headlights. If you have your high beams on, they can reflect in the truck’s large mirrors and potentially blind the truck driver. While you should always keep your headlights on when driving on a busy highway, do not use your high beams when you see an oncoming semi-truck, or if you are following directly behind a truck.
- Be extremely careful when driving at night. There may be less traffic on the roads at night, but truck drivers often become increasingly fatigued at night, particularly if they have been driving for several hours without a break. Unfortunately, drowsy driving is a serious issue in the trucking industry, so leave extra space between you and a truck, and use extreme caution when passing a truck at night.
- Wear your seat belt. If you are involved in a truck accident, wearing a seat belt may be the difference between life and death. Although you may not walk away from a truck accident unscathed, wearing a seat belt is the most effective thing you can do to prevent fatalities and reduce the severity of injuries.
What if I Am Injured in a Truck Accident?
Truck accidents often cause significant property damage and severe injuries. If you suffered a serious injury in a truck accident, it is important that you take the following steps:
- Call 911. If you are able to do so, call 911 and report the accident. Notify dispatch if there are injuries so that they can send an ambulance to the accident scene.
- Get immediate medical attention. Even if your injuries do not seem serious or life-threatening, it is crucial that you are examined by a medical professional. Oftentimes, the adrenaline that is coursing through the body can mask the symptoms of an injury. If you fail to seek medical attention, it could have a negative impact on your claim if you file a personal injury lawsuit against the truck driver.
- Contact an experienced truck accident lawyer. A truck accident lawyer will protect your legal rights, negotiate with the insurance company, and recover the damages to which you are entitled.
Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Protect the Rights of Clients in Truck Accidents
If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a truck accident, it is in your best interest to contact the Baltimore truck accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will thoroughly review your case, determine who is responsible for causing the accident, and explain every step of the claims process. Our dedicated legal team will ensure that you receive full and financial compensation. Call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
We have offices in Baltimore, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, allowing us to represent clients in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.