Sharing the Road – Tractor Trailers and You

An accident with a tractor trailer can be a devastating collision and have dire consequences for you and your passengers. A full big rig can outweigh the average vehicle by many tons, leaving your car no chance to resist the force from a crashing truck. While accidents will happen, there are steps you can take to ensure the safety of you and your family while traveling our roads interstates. Defensive driving techniques will help you avoid potentially deadly collisions with tractor trailers and allow both you and the truck driver to arrive at your destination safely.
It is important to maintain a safe distance from other vehicles. This is even more important when traveling near semi trucks. Tractor trailers simply cannot maneuver through traffic like other vehicles. Their operational limits will prevent them from making quick turns and making a sudden stop. In fact, a freight carrier traveling at a top speed of 65 MPH takes approximately double the amount of distance to come to a complete stop than it does an average car. Diving a safe distance behind a big rig will allow you the distance needed to safely stop your vehicle or maneuver out of the way of an accident.
It is equally important to allow the truck adequate room behind you after passing. Do not pass a semi and merge back into the right lane without giving the semi enough room to stop if need be. If you are traveling in front of a tractor trailer, be sure to leave enough so that if you need to make a sudden stop, the big rig will be able to stop without hitting you.
While traveling immediately in front or directly behind a tractor trailer is dangerous, one of the most dangerous places to be is driving alongside. Do not travel directly alongside a semi because their side mirrors simply cannot see you, meaning the truck driver doesn’t know you’re there. This is called a blind spot, and truckers have a significant gap in what they can see from their mirrors. Only travel along side a big rig when you are passing or being passed, and make sure you pass quickly without spending too much time in the trucker’s blind spot. If the tractor trailer needs to make a sudden lane change, they may do so without knowing you’re there so be sure you make a complete pass from a safe distance behind to a adequate distance ahead. This will ensure the truck driver sees when you begin and complete your pass.
Another important thing to remember about the blind spot is the danger you can be in when you’re next to a truck as they make a turn. If you’re on the right side of a tractor trailer as they make a right turn, you could get caught in a squeeze. A big rig needs adequate space to make wide turns. If a truck driver doesn’t know you’re there, you could become sandwiched between the truck and the curb. Make sure you don’t pull up along the right side a tractor trailer at an intersection, especially if their turn signal is activated and they’re in a middle lane. Allow them the space they need to complete a wide turn.
Share the roadway responsibly with tractor trailers and you’ll be making sure you, your passengers and the truck driver have safe travels.

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