Do Your Part to Prevent Truck Crashes
By Tim Becker —
Most of the deaths that result from accidents involving large trucks and tractor-trailers are occupants of passenger vehicles – cars, trucks and SUVs. Trucks weigh anywhere from 20 to 30 times more than cars, and can take 20 to 40 percent longer to stop when braking, even with well-maintained brakes on dry roads. Drivers shouldn’t think of large trucks as just any other vehicle on the road. Taking extra precautions can prevent truck crashes and save lives.
Give truckers a lot of room.
Driving too closely behind a large truck limits what you can see and limits your reaction time if the truck is forced to brake suddenly. Leave yourself at least three seconds of following distance, and double that time in poor weather conditions.
Because trucks are harder to stop, you should also leave a lot of room before moving back into a trucker’s lane after passing. Wait until the entire cab of the truck is visible in your rear-view mirror before signaling and changing lanes.
Make sure truck drivers can see you.
A trucker’s blind spot is much bigger than yours. It’s especially bad on the passenger side, so always pass trucks on the driver’s side. Avoid driving in a truck’s blind spot unless you are passing. If you can’t see the truck driver in his mirrors, you’re probably in a blind spot.
Take care when passing on the highway.
Always check a truck’s turn signals before attempting to pass. Make sure that you can maintain a constant, safe speed when passing, and don’t try to pass around sharp curves or on steep hills, especially on two-lane roads. It might be tempting to speed around a truck to maintain the flow of traffic or squeeze in front of a truck to accommodate other drivers, but this kind of driving can cause crashes.
Pay attention at intersections, too.
Be patient if you’re behind a truck at a light, because your visibility is so limited. Never attempt to pass a truck on the right at an intersection. Many crashes occur when large trucks make wide right turns, even at slow speeds. Just like city buses, tractor-trailers often have to use multiple lanes at intersections, so maintain a safe distance.
Keep the roadway clear.
Many crashes involving trucks occur when a passenger vehicle has pulled over to the side of the road. All it takes is a moment’s inattention for a large truck to plow into a car that has not left enough space on the shoulder, so pull over as far as you can, or wait until you can exit the road entirely if possible.
If you observe unsafe truck driving, report it to authorities or call the 1-800 number on the back of the trailer. If you’re driving, pull over to call or have a passenger do it. Calling the company’s 1-800 number brings bad drivers to the company’s attention. If numerous complaints have been filed, you could help get a bad driver off the road. Because these 1-800 calls are saved, your call could be useful if the driver is involved in an accident at a later date.
Meanwhile, do everything you can to give truckers enough time and room to keep you and other drivers out of harm’s way.