Commercial trucks are some of the largest and heaviest vehicles on the road. The larger size and greater weight increase the distance needed to bring a commercial truck to a halt safely. Consequently, the force of an impact with a truck is considerably greater. It’s critical for other road users to know how to drive safely when near trucks and avoid collisions with them. This article provides seven practical and actionable tips to help you prevent a truck accident.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Before getting into accident prevention, familiarize yourself with the most common causes of truck accidents. It’s important to know these tips whether you are an ordinary motorist or you drive a commercial truck for a living.
Some commercial truck drivers drive the same routes consistently. However, many others need to use unfamiliar roadways to get to different locations. Driving such large vehicles on unfamiliar roadways can greatly increase the chances of an accident. Truck drivers may get distracted by their navigation systems or trying to find the road sign that points them in the right direction. The fact that truck drivers are often in unfamiliar territory is worth bearing in mind.
Adverse weather conditions, such as heavy rainfall, thunderstorms, or icy roads, increase the risks of an accident for all road users. These risks become more marked when large vehicles such as commercial trucks are involved. All motorists should take the weather conditions into consideration and give more space between your own vehicle and vehicles around you, especially if those vehicles happen to be large commercial trucks.
All drivers are susceptible to fatigue while on the road, but truck drivers are often more at risk. Commercial truck drivers often need to drive long distances, which can lead to tiredness. If truck drivers don’t pull over for a nap, they are at risk of dangerous temporary sleep episodes known as microsleeps. During a microsleep, a tired truck driver may drift off for up to 30 seconds and lose control of the vehicle.
Road accidents are often caused by people driving at excessive speeds, which is a felony traffic offense. A speeding commercial truck is a real danger on the roads because the truck exerts much higher forces upon impact with other vehicles. However, all other motorists need to maintain correct speed limits because speeding puts you at risk of colliding with a much larger vehicle like a truck.
The following tips should help you reduce the chances of getting into an accident involving a commercial truck.
- Keep Your Distance
If there’s one tip above all others to prevent a truck accident it’s that you need to keep your distance. Always leave adequate space between your vehicle and a truck when you’re driving behind one. Try to leave four seconds between your car and any truck to ensure the truck has adequate stopping distance.
Following too closely behind doesn’t give you enough time to react to a truck suddenly stopping due to a tire blowout or an oncoming obstacle. High winds are also a danger because they can cause trucks to roll over; you don’t want to be too close behind a truck that rolls over.
- Keep Clear of Blind Spots
The blind spots in commercial trucks are far larger than those in most types of motor vehicles. These larger blind spots are particularly significant on the passenger side of a truck. Make an effort to stay out of a truck’s blind spots as much as you can. A practical tip to identify when you’re inside the blind spot of a truck is to glance in the truck’s side mirrors. If you can’t see the truck driver’s face in the mirror, the driver probably can’t see your vehicle.
- Eliminate Distractions
Distracted driving is the number one cause of traffic accidents on American roads. These distractions can include looking at a phone, eating food, sipping a beverage, or conversing with passengers. However, you need to remain firmly focused on the road in front of you with all five senses to ensure that you’re aware of your surroundings and ready to take corrective action in the event of something going wrong.
- Signal Clearly and in Good Time
Signaling clearly and in good time is a pivotal part of being a safe driver. You should give early and clear signals to truck drivers when you intend to turn, change lanes, or pass them. Clear and early signaling gives the truck driver time to anticipate or react to your vehicle’s movements and adjust their own driving in line with what you’ve signaled you’re doing.
- Be Prudent Near Turning Trucks
Turning trucks need more clearance than other types of motor vehicles to safely make a turn. Furthermore, the truck driver has less visibility when turning. These factors combine to increase the dangers of driving too near a turning commercial truck. Truck drivers may take up two lanes to be able to successfully complete a turn, and you should be aware of this. It can be difficult to accurately judge how much space the truck will need when making a turn, so the best advice is to give as much clearance as you can. Being as prudent as possible typically leads to fewer accidents.
- Cautiously Pass Trucks
If you want to pass a truck, you should be extra cautious when doing so. Be aware that you’ll need enough acceleration to pass the truck and return to the right lane. You should also always pass the truck on the driver’s side because this is where the driver’s blind spot is smallest. Never try to pass a truck when going up or down a hill because your view of the road ahead will be obscured.
- Lower Your Headlights
Always avoid engaging in any driving practices that impair the driving ability of other road users. Make sure to always lower your high beam headlights.
That concludes our list of seven tips for preventing a truck accident. If you or someone you know has been in a truck accident, contact us today for legal advice.