Any driver knows that driving next to a big commercial truck can be intimidating. The trailers sway with wind, they have huge blind spots, and they’re so large that any slip-up could prove devastating for one or more passenger cars around them. The worry isn’t irrational. Awful news stories about a passenger car and an 18-wheeler collision aren’t uncommon. In 2013, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported that 3,906 trucks were involved in fatal crashes that year. To avoid a commercial truck accident and boost your confidence on your next highway trip, read on.
Recognize how trucks will communicate with you
Like drivers of passenger cars, trucks will often use their lights to communicate basic things to you, such as one flash of their high beams to indicate that they are letting you into their lane. If they are rapidly flashing their high beams, or of course using their horn, they are telling you something is wrong or to stop doing what you are doing. If it seems like a truck driver is trying to indicate something to you, pay attention.
Remember that trucks often make wide turns
Have you seen the “CAUTION: THIS TRUCK MAKES WIDE RIGHT TURNS” stickers on the back of some 18-wheelers? Many people forget to use caution when stopped at lights or approaching turns alongside 18-wheelers. Keep a close eye on their turn signals and don’t pass them. If they are at a traffic light and have their right blinker on but are not in the rightmost lane, give them space to make that wide turn. Many commercial truck accidents have happened from a neighboring car misunderstanding the truck’s turn.
Give trucks space in general, especially in bad weather!
Trucks don’t stop quickly. Many truck accidents have happened from trucks tailgating passenger cars and then not being able to stomp the brakes quickly enough — which is definitely a good time for finding a good attorney, for the record. Despite truck drivers’ training to keep distance between themselves and other vehicles on the road, they could ignore their training for any number of reasons, or cars could foolishly stick too close to trucks and not give them the room they need. You never know if you could get caught up in something unexpected too, such as a blown 18-wheeler tire, or them hydroplaning on slick roads. Cars should respect the room commercial trucks need, especially in icy or wet conditions where either driver could suddenly be out of control.
Be aware of the blind spots of trucks
Trucks have large blind spots. While truck drivers are trained to check their mirrors often and try to have an awareness of where cars are around them, it’s entirely possible they could overlook a car in their blind spot. If you think a truck next to you is attempting to move over and doesn’t notice you in the lane, get their attention immediately. Honk your horn, make noise, try to push ahead or fall back if possible to get out of their way, or at least out of their blind spot.
Watch for potentially dangerous behavior from distracted drivers
Despite their training, just as some drivers of regular passenger cars don’t drive safely, truck drivers can sometimes engage in dangerous behaviors. Truck drivers spend long hours on the road, often being paid by the mile and experiencing a bit of boredom and exhaustion. If you see a truck driving erratically or strangely, get their plate info and pull over somewhere safe to report them to emergency services to hopefully stop the commercial truck accident before it happens. Also be aware that distracted drivers of passenger vehicles around you and an 18-wheeler on the road can spell disaster. Remove yourself from a dangerous distracted driver situation as much as possible, and report it.
These tips can maximize your safety on the road next to today’s many traveling 18-wheelers, but let’s be real: accidents still happen. Commercial truck accidents can be messy affairs, both in damages and legal work. If you have been involved in a commercial truck accident and need legal help, you can trust Steigmann Law to pair you with an Illinois car accident attorney who will defend your rights.