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The Special Dangers Presented by Big Trucks

Accidents with an 18-wheeler almost always result in injuries.  Many times, these accidents can be fatal for one or more persons.  Yet driver’s education classes spend very little, if any, time on truck safety training.

Truck drivers are members of the general public that have chosen trucking as their profession.  Like any profession, there are good truck drivers and bad truck drivers.  A truck accident can be the fault of any number of parties, and the truck driver is not always to blame.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a report on driving safety around big trucks, such as 18-wheeler vehicles.

While most motorists do not know how to drive near trucks properly, there are some safety tips can learn to help avoid accidents with big rigs.

How to Properly Pass a Big Truck

Drivers that need to pass a big truck should do so as quickly as possible.  Pass on the left side and get as close to the outside of the lane as safely possible.  Passing on the right side of a big truck is much more dangerous.  This is because the truck driver cannot see a passing vehicle driver as well, as the right side has a large number of blind spots.  After a driver has passed a big truck, care must be taken not to cut the truck off. Drivers should give the big truck much more room than he or she would a regular car.  A fully loaded truck takes a considerable distance to stop.

Drivers should avoid passing big trucks on a downhill slope.  Trucks tend to pick up speed on down-hill slopes.

Big Trucks Need and Deserve a Great Deal of Room on the Road

Drivers should avoid spending time driving near trucks.  A number of reasons for this exist.

  • Big Trucks Can Act Like Sails. Even though big trucks are heavy, they can still be blown around by the wind.  Big trucks have a huge amount of surface area, creating an effect like a sail.  This can make them very difficult to control, especially if the truck is not loaded.  This can result in the truck drifting into another lane, including one occupied by another driver.
  • Big Trucks Experience Tire Blowouts. Any driver that has spent much time on the highways has seen large chunks of tire rubber all over the road.  This rubber is from blown out tires on big trucks.  The massive loads hauled by big trucks cause a great deal of stress on their tires.  Drivers do not want to be near a big truck when a tire blows and chunks of heavy rubber start flying around.  Adding to the danger, the truck may also begin to swerve when it experiences a tire blowout.
  • Blind Spots. Most drivers are aware that their vehicle has blind spots where any vehicle in that space cannot be seen.  But drivers often forget that this also applies to big trucks.  In fact, the big trucks have many more blind spots, especially on the passenger side.  Follow the advice above when passing a big truck.  Get around the big truck as quickly as possible.  The truck may be forced to change lanes quickly to avoid a vehicle or road debris.  The truck driver may not know you are in the blind spot and an accident can result.

Drivers should look at a truck’s mirrors.  As a general rule of thumb, if the driver cannot see the truck driver in the mirror, the truck driver cannot see the other driver.

  • Remember That Big Trucks Make Wide Turns. Most truck trailers have stickers on them warning, “This truck makes wide turns.”  However, in spite of this warning, drivers still frequently drive next to the truck as it is turning, resulting in one of the most common type of accidents involving big trucks.  This is most common when the truck is taking a right turn.  Truck drivers swing to the left, sometimes as far as the left lane.  This seems to create a space for another driver to squeeze in between the truck and the shoulder.  Drivers should not do this.  The truck driver can only see his or her trailer while making this turn, not your vehicle.  The driver likely will not be aware of your vehicle until it is being crushed under his or her trailer.  The right side of a big truck is extremely dangerous.

Watch for a big truck’s turn signals.  Even if it is moving into the left lane, do not assume it is not turning right if the truck has its right turn signal on.

Seemingly Odd Driving Behavior

Truck drivers sometimes engage in driving behavior that is confusing to non-truck drivers.  For example, many big trucks have speed limiters.  This results in trucks only being able to drive at a limited speed which can cause problems while passing.  A heavier loaded truck trying to pass may encounter a hill causing it to slow down and not complete the pass.  This can result in two trucks driving side-by-side, frustrating both the truck drivers and other drivers on the road.

Weaving around big trucks or honking the horn will not make things go faster for the driver and will only make a situation more dangerous.  Drivers must stay focused on their own driving and not being critical of big truck drivers on the road.

Truck Drivers Just Want Everyone to Get Home Safe

Some car drivers think big truck drivers are trying to take advantage of their size and bully their way around the road.  As with any profession, there are some bad truck drivers on the road.  However, most truck drivers are doing the best they can and only want everyone on the road to get home safe.  Driving a big truck is stressful and difficult and truck drivers appreciate the patience and understanding of fellow drivers on the road.

Contact Our Office for a Consultation

If you have been injured in an accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, lost wages, and other damages.  Contact the experienced personal injury lawyers in Atlanta at The Bader Law Firm, LLC to discuss the facts and circumstances of your case today.

Seth Bader is an Auto Accident and Personal Injury Attorney who practices in Atlanta, Rome, Savannah, Norcross, Carrollton, Georgia. He graduated from Florida State University College of Law and has been practicing law for 14 years. Seth Bader believes in fighting for the injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.

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