There’s no way to avoid sharing the road with semis. Being in a significantly smaller vehicle can be intimidating on the road, and for good reason—on average, one person is injured or killed in a truck accident every 16 minutes.
The United States Department of Transportation estimates that over 500,000 truck accidents occur every year. But did you know that more than 75% of truck driving accidents are due to the driver of the passenger vehicle? It’s not all on the truck driver—everyone on the road needs to be safe and aware of what they can do to keep themselves safe, which in turn helps other drivers stay safe as well. When it comes to semis, this is especially true.
Here are seven things you should be aware of when sharing the road with a semi truck.
1. Mind the space ahead of them.
Just because there’s space in front of a semi doesn’t mean it’s safe to change lanes in front of them. This assumption is actually one of the worst and also one of the most common mistakes people can make with semis. Trucks have air brakes, which means if you cause him to hit his brakes and use up his air before the mechanism can refill, then he has no brake power for a second stop. This significantly increases the driver’s stopping distance and could result in him rear-ending you by no fault of his own—that’s just the way his truck works.
2. Don’t drive directly alongside them.
There are a few reasons you should try to never drive directly alongside a semi—some of these reasons apply to them and some apply to you. First of all, they’re blocking half of your view constantly if you’re driving alongside them.
Secondly, if the semi blows a tire, it will likely cause both of you to wreck. This sounds like a manageable situation now (especially if you’ve never witnessed a tire blowout on a semi), but when a truck tire blows out, it sounds like a bomb going off. Your reaction to the sound could cause you to wreck. Sometimes tires are even shot off the truck with enough force that it can knock a car right off the road.
It’s unsafe to bet on your reactionary skills or the semi driver’s when it comes to something like this, so your best bet is to pass him or stay a fair distance behind him.
3. Be careful behind them.
When you’re directly behind a truck, the bottom line is that the driver can’t see you. If you end up intentionally or unintentionally tailgating a semi, your entire view is blocked and it puts the truck driver in charge of your decision making—if he brakes hard, you’re forced to brake as well. Backing off and allowing a fair amount of space between you and that semi gives you back your autonomy and also seriously decreases your chance of a collision.
4. Remember that they need space to turn.
The average trailer length on a semi is 53 feet—therefore, they have to make very wide turns to maneuver these vehicles on the road. When you see a truck with its turn signal flashing, do not pull up beside it. Allow the driver the few extra seconds they need to turn and then pick your speed back up.
5. Know that their speed may be governed.
Many trucking companies have speed governance over their trucks—meaning a semi driver who’s maintaining a constant speed of 62 on the highway isn’t just going under the speed limit without reason. Know this and pass him when you have a safe opportunity—tailgating or driving recklessly will not make him go faster and may endanger you both.
6. If a semi is trying to merge into the left lane, let them.
It’s common knowledge that truck drivers generally stay in the farthest right lane as often as possible. There are some places where truck drivers can be ticketed for driving in the fast lane. So if a truck is trying to move into the left or middle lanes, there’s probably a good reason for it—maybe even something up ahead that you can’t see yet. The best thing you can do is just let them over. More than likely, they won’t be in your lane for long and will merge back to the right once they’re able.
7. Pay attention.
This goes without saying for all driving scenarios, but it never hurts to be reminded. Drivers are constantly getting distracted by their cell phones, radios, other passengers, noises, things off to the roadside, or even just zoning out after a long day. Stay alert around all drivers, including semis.
It’s up to everyone on the road to stay safe and careful so everyone can get where they’re going without making or being influenced by a dangerous mistake. However, even when you do your best to be safe, other drivers can be careless and it’s possible for you to get caught in their path. If you or a loved one have been the victim of a trucking accident in South Bend, Fort Wayne, or somewhere else in Indiana, contact us at Boughter Sinak, LLC today.
Source: P&S Transportation