When you see a commercial or semi-truck on the freeway, your instinct probably tells you to stay clear. Not only are the giant tires intimidating compared to your vehicle, but you’ve also read countless news articles about the frequency of truck-involved accidents, and you’re determined not to make one of those headlines.
Luckily, there are some things that you can do to avoid this.
Here are five things to focus on to help prevent collisions with trucks.
1) Allow sufficient time to brake
Many car drivers treat large trucks the same as other small vehicles. Yet, a truck driver needs more time to stop than a car. A truck requires 40 percent more time to stop than a car. When they aren’t given enough space between them and the vehicle in front of them, momentum will override any decision the truck driver can make. With that, you should leave at least 20 feet between you and a truck when merging in front of one. Cutting off a truck puts you, the driver and others on the road at a greater risk for what could quickly become a fatal accident.
2) Be sure to signal
Truck drivers, like everyone else, are not psychic (or at least none that we know of, anyway.) Without proper signaling, a truck driver may be left to guess if it is safe to change lanes or merge. Trying your luck on a slot machine probably has better odds than taking a gamble with a 65-foot truck. By using your signal, you’re less likely to be involved in a collision.
3) Watch your speed
You see a truck driver signaling a lane change, but you don’t speed up or slow down. As mentioned previously, a car can accelerate or slow down much faster than a truck. Being aware of this is crucial when sharing the road with a big rig, so help the driver out by adjusting your speed accordingly.
4) Pay attention
When you’re driving, many distractions will try to steer your attention away from the road. It might be your kids arguing in the backseat, your boss calling or a text from your daycare provider. Whatever it is that is trying to distract you, try your best to resist the temptation. While the road should always have your full attention when driving, it’s of the utmost importance to be extra cautious when around trucks.
5) Beware of blind spots
If you can’t see the side mirrors of a truck, they probably can’t see you. Leave about 30 feet when you’re behind the truck and try not to drive parallel to one, just to be safe. Not doing so can put you at risk when you’re in the “no zone.”
Were you taught how to drive safely around large trucks in your driver’s ed class? If you were, give your instructor a pat on the back. But, for most people, that simply isn’t the case. By knowing the do’s and don’ts of proper road etiquette involving trucks, the road can become safer for you, your family and other drivers.