- Large trucks were involved in 179 fatal road accidents in Georgia in 2016
- An average tractor trailer can be 80 ft long and weigh up to 80,000 lbs.
- A semi truck can need 525 ft to come to a complete stop from 65 mph
Semi trucks are large and they are dangerous, but they are also a critical facet of our economy. Every day, over a million trucks take to our nation’s highways to deliver the goods and materials that keep our society running. Because of our country’s asphalt-focused infrastructure, these trucks share the road with millions of other passenger vehicles. Driving alongside a massive, heavy truck is therefore unavoidable on most trips, especially if you’re using the interstate.
While you can’t control the fact that commuters and travelers have to ride the same roads as truck drivers, you can make safe decisions to reduce your risk of a dangerous truck accident. According to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety in Georgia, 179 fatal car accidents in 2016 involved a tractor trailer or other large truck. Many of these accidents were caused by unsafe driving practices around semi trucks, such as riding in their blind zone.
Of course, other accidents were caused by errors made by truck drivers, their employers, or the companies in charge of maintaining their trucks. Our Atlanta truck accident lawyers have seen a number of incident caused by truck driver neglect, including failing to pay attention to the road or failing to maintain their vehicle as required by law.
Even still, passenger vehicle drivers can reduce their risk of a serious semi truck accident by giving trucks space and using the following other tips for safely driving around large commercial trucks.
Stay Out of the “No Zone”
The average tractor trailer combination measures around 65 feet in length and weighs as much as 80,000 lbs. All that size and girth can obscure certain visual angles from truck drivers, creating what are known as “blind spots.”
When you ride in a truck’s blind spot, you are effectively invisible to them. They may think they are safe to change lanes, or they may make decisions like suddenly braking since they are not aware of the risks it creates to others around them.
A semi truck will have fairly large blind spots when they are hauling a trailer behind them. These blind spots can be depicted as a wide angled cone to the right of the vehicle and a smaller cone to the left. Areas within the front and rear of a truck can also be blind spots, so give them lots of room when following or changing lanes in front of them.
Do not “hang out” in these blind spots. Avoid riding alongside truck cabs in the left lane, tailgating too closely, or traveling alongside a semi truck at high speeds. If possible, slow down and allow them to pass, or pass them and merge safely into their lane with several car lengths between you.
Pass Only When It’s Safe
Passing a semi truck on the highway should be a calculated maneuver. Ensure you have enough room in the left-hand passing lane to make it completely out of the truck driver’s blind spot. Avoid passing on the right if at all possible (plus, it may be against the law).
Never merge directly in front of a semi truck after passing. When merging, leave around 100 feet of space in case the driver has to slam on their brakes. Remember that large trucks take much longer to come to a complete stop — often as much as 525 feet when travelling at speeds of 65 mph or faster.
Be Ready for Wide Right Turns
When a tractor trailer needs to turn right, they may need as much as 55 feet of turning radius to complete the task. Anticipate that they will need extra room, and avoid entering their space when at all possible.
If you are travelling on the highway and a truck is trying to exit, give it plenty of space in front of you. The large vehicle will likely need to slow down to a much lower speed than you in order to maintain control through the offramp’s curve.
Be Patient, And Don’t Aggravate Truck Drivers
Since a semi truck plus trailer combination will weigh over 10 to 20 times more than the average passenger vehicle, there are no doubts as to who would win in a tussle. Of course, truck drivers will try to avoid a collision at all costs, but when others on the road are cutting in close to them or driving erratically, truck drivers’ skills will be tested. Truck drivers may also become distracted by the aggressive maneuvers others take.
As such, practice disciplined driving around large trucks. Don’t tailgate closely, pass dramatically by “flooring it,” cut them off after passing, or generally act as a nuisance. Rest assured that you do not want the truck driver’s attention (in a bad way). Rather, you want them to be paying as much attention as possible to the entire road so that they can keep their large vehicle under control.
Be Aware, Be Sober, And Don’t Get Distracted
You will need all of your wits about you when travelling near large trucks and tractor trailers. Eliminate all distractions in order to focus 100% on driving safely and proactively taking steps to avoid risky situations. For instance, you may need to silence your navigation app and turn the volume of your radio down so that you can stay focused.
One thing you should absolutely never do is drive drunk or fatigued. Impaired driving poses tremendous risks even at low speeds, so traveling at high speeds next to large trucks naturally compounds your serious risks.
Reach Out to Atlanta Truck Accident Lawyers if Your Accident May Have Been Caused by Driver Neglect
Every year, thousands of drivers across the country are involved in serious accidents with tractor trailers, semi trucks, and other large commercial vehicles through no fault of their own.
If you have been injured in a serious truck accident in Atlanta, you can fight for your right to fair compensation for your medical costs, lost wages, suffering, and other damages.
Atlanta truck accident lawyers can provide invaluable assistance while you are making a truck accident injury claim. They will help you strategize your case, determine the reasons the truck driver (or another party) was at fault, and fight for the maximum available compensation to help you recover fully.
Contact a personal injury attorney today if you want to schedule a free case evaluation regarding your accident. You may not be able to completely erase the damage a truck accident caused to you, but you can get your life back on the right track by seeking the financial restitution you deserve.