Large semi tractor-trailer trucks make up almost 5% of all vehicle traffic on the nation’s highways. That density increases in large metropolitan areas and congested corridors, where almost every fourth vehicle may be a truck. A fully loaded truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, as opposed to 4,000 pounds for a car. At that weight, a truck traveling at 55 miles per hour can require up to 100 yards, or the entire length of a football field, to come to a full stop. Given these facts, a car will be at a severe disadvantage in a collision with a truck or other large vehicle.
Defensive driving should be a priority when you are driving anywhere near a truck, a bus, or any other long, heavy commercial vehicle. You can improve your safety by practicing these five cautions when driving near trucks:
Don’t ignore a truck’s blind spots and no-drive zones
Even with dashboard cameras, proximity sensors, and large rearview mirrors, commercial drivers are not immediately able to see everything on the road around them. Stay at least 30 feet behind a truck or bus, and be careful while driving in the one lane on the driver’s side of the truck and in the two lanes on the passenger side, particularly if you are behind the truck’s cab. The 20 feet of roadway in front of a truck or bus is also a high-risk zone. When you pass a truck, drive well beyond the front of the cab before shifting back into the lane in front of the truck.
Don’t forget to exercise extra caution when passing a truck
If you cannot see the truck or bus driver’s mirrors, the driver will not be able to see you. Make sure you can see the mirrors before you shift into a passing lane. Use your turn signals to indicate that you are passing. Accelerate smoothly and evenly while in the passing lane and do not linger in the driver’s blind spot immediately behind the cab. Confirm that you see the entire front of the truck in your own rearview mirror before you shift back into the truck’s lane. Understand also that you will require more roadway to pass a long truck or bus. Never begin a pass on a two-lane or a curving road if you have any doubts about how clear the passing lane is in front of you.
Never cut off or brake-check a truck or bus
Remember that a fully loaded truck may need 100 yards to come to a complete stop. When you cut off a truck, you are taking an extreme risk that the truck will not be able to stop in time behind you if you suddenly slow down. Further, drivers that have road rage issues might be tempted to “brake check” a truck, where the driver pulls in front of a truck and suddenly slows down or brakes to force the truck to do the same. Brake checking can cause a truck driver to lose control of the vehicle and to cause disastrous accidents.
Do not tailgate or draft off of a truck or bus
Again, if you cannot see the truck’s mirrors, the driver cannot see you. You might be tempted to improve your highway mileage by riding in a truck’s draft, but if the truck slows suddenly you can easily crash into the trailer’s rear impact guard. Federal regulations require trailers to have a guard that is no more than 22 inches above the surface of a roadway. Depending on the height of your vehicle, a collision with that guard can cause serious damage or injury.
Do not fail to heed wide turns from trucks and buses
Give trucks and buses enough room to maneuver through wide turns. A truck or bus might need to start a right turn, for example, from a middle lane. When you are pulling up to an intersection and a truck is turning from another road into your roadway, anticipate that the truck may need to come into your lane while it executes the turn.
Accident? Call Baton Rouge truck accident lawyer Bart Bernard
If you have suffered property damages or injuries in an accident with a truck or bus in Baton Rouge, or anywhere else in Louisiana, Bart Bernard can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call our offices as soon as possible after the accident to give our legal team an opportunity to investigate and preserve the evidence.
Contact Baton Rouge and Lafayette truck accident lawyer Bart Bernard today to schedule a free consultation about your accident. Bart charges no fees unless he is able to get you fair and just compensation.
Additional Resources on “What Never To Do When Driving Around Trucks”:
- FMCSA.gov: Tips for Driving Safely Around Large Trucks or Buses. https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/ourroads/tips-driving-safely-around-large-trucks-or-buses
- Jalopnik.com: Why You Never, Ever Brake Check Another Driver. https://jalopnik.com/why-you-never-ever-brake-check-another-driver-1764147377