Tips for successful interstate interactions when sharing the road with big rigs, tractor-trailers, and other multi-axle vehicles.
With a combined population of over 15 million, and containing many heavily-traveled stretches of the East Coast’s most-used highways, auto accidents are an unfortunate part of life in the Carolinas. Convenient access to several major US cities makes North and South Carolina a busy thoroughfare for large shipping trucks and other heavy commercial vehicles.
As members of the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys, Auger & Auger understands the importance of knowing how to drive safely in the presence of semis. We frequently provide traffic injury victims in the Carolinas an experienced truck accident lawyer to represent their claim, and we often see the same crash scenarios again and again.
While you can’t always avoid an accident when others on the road are being careless, using the following simple tips can help you reduce your risk of tragedy when traveling in the company of heavy commercial vehicles.
Stay Alert and Fully Focused
You should always practice defensive driving and exercise caution when behind the wheel of a car, but there may be no more important of a time to focus on the road than when you are in close proximity with large, multi-axle vehicles.
When sharing the road with a big rig, minimize your distractions, and keep both hands on the wheel. Always remain aware of your surroundings, as well as the location and behavior of other vehicles traveling nearby.
Keep Your Distance
Multi-axle vehicles like 18-wheelers need extra room on the road; be mindful not to get too close. Every aspect of operating a semi, from changing lanes to coming to a complete stop, requires more space and time to do. At typical highway speeds, even in perfect driving conditions, a fully loaded tractor-trailer needs over two football fields of distance to come to a complete stop. Help truck drivers perform their job safely by being an ally on the interstate. Give them as much room as possible on all sides at all times.
Know Your Zones
Knowing where a truck driver can and cannot see you is one of the most important things to remember when driving behind or beside a semi. A good rule of thumb is, “if I can see their mirrors, they can see me.”
Never travel immediately in front of or behind a semi, and avoid lingering in the most critical blind spot, on the truck’s right side. Many big rigs have a diagram conveniently displayed on the back of the truck that shows you these blind spots and safe zones.
To get a better idea of where you should and should not be when traveling near a semi, take a look at this visual, provided by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Pay attention to other important information they may have written on the vehicle, such as their turning radius, maximum speed, railroad crossing protocols, and potential hazards such as flying rocks and other debris. These can help you anticipate when a truck might need the extra room — and when they may be totally blind to your presence.
Communicate Intentions Clearly
When you need to maneuver around a tractor-trailer, make sure you communicate your intentions clearly with everyone on the road. In other words, use your turn signals!
If possible, make eye contact with the driver prior to going around them. You should be able to see their face in their side-view mirror if you are traveling in one of the safe zones mentioned above and are ready to pass.
Commit, and Be Quick
Once you have effectively communicated your intentions, find an opportunity to execute your decision safely, and do so as quickly as possible. Never cut in front of a tractor-trailer at a slow speed; this could cause a terrible collision. After passing, maintain your speed until there is plenty of room behind you for the truck to continue operating normally.
Don’t play leapfrog or dart between lanes. If you are going to go around a semi, commit to your new place in line, and do your best not to slow them down or force them to pass you.
Patience Pays Off
No amount of time shaved off a trip is worth risking your life, or the lives of other drivers on the road. Staying calm and keeping a good attitude is often the best option when dealing with traffic woes. Arriving in one piece is always more important than arriving on time!
If You or Someone You Know Has Been in a Truck Accident, Auger & Auger Can Help
Sometimes, no matter how safe you play it on the road, mistakes by big truck operators or other drivers can result in you getting snarled into an accident through no fault of your own. This can lead to significant damages, including medical treatment costs, lost income, and out of pocket expenses.
With 26 years of experience in personal injury law and a special focus on truck accidents, the attorneys at Auger & Auger know how to give you the representation you deserve to seek the compensation you need to recover from your collision.
Associates are available to assist you online via chat 24 hours a day, or we can be reached by phone at 855-969-5671. Call or contact us online now to speak with a truck accident lawyer in the Carolinas during a free case review.