US Highways see about 11 million tractor-trailers a year. These huge vehicles log a whopping 288 billion miles a year. As there are a significant number of tractor trailers on the road, they also take a huge part in highway accidents. Data from Tenge Law Firm’s Road Safety infographic states that in 2009 alone there were 286,000 crashes that resulted to 74,000 injuries and over 3,000 deaths.
While road accidents are unavoidable, there are ways to minimize the risk both from tractor-trailer drivers and passenger vehicle drivers.
As a passenger vehicle driver, it is important to know how to drive alongside trucks, especially as 76% of fatalities from tractor trailer collisions were the occupants of the passenger vehicle. Here are some ways you can minimize the risk of vehicular accidents among passenger vehicles and trailer-tractors:
Do not change lanes abruptly
Truck drivers have a different view and response time. You may be able to see more in your surroundings while the larger vehicle may have limited vision. Move predictably to give truck drivers ample time to read your intentions and respond properly.
Beware of blind spots
Like we mentioned previously, truck drivers have limited vision. These include blind spots called “no zones” these zones include the rear and side of the truck, and the connecting point between the truck and trailer. Driving near these areas are very dangerous as the truck driver will have difficulty seeing smaller cars. Try to avoid these areas as much as you can.
Always use turn signals when passing
Lights are helpful cues for any kind of vehicle behind you to understand your intentions. For trailer-tractor drivers who need extra time to maneuver their large bodies, this is especially helpful in maintaining road safety.
Avoid getting squeezed
At intersections, tractor-trailer drivers at many times need to make wide turns. Keep your distance and allow a wide berth to avoid getting caught in the “no zones”.
A trailer-truck driver hold immense responsibility not just for the cargo they transport but also the welfare of other automobiles as they are the bigger and stronger vehicles on the road.
Here are a few pointers for truckers on how to avoid accidents from mechanical failures:
Maintain your trucks regularly
Many truck crashes are due to mechanical failures. Most of which are progressive and are the result of wear and tear. Preventive maintenance recognizes potential road problems like brake pads that need to be replaced to ensure optimal response in high demand panic situations, repairing and replacing overused tires that can lead to tread detachments and loss of control, and many others
Practice safe truck-weight driving practices
A tractor-trailer can weigh anywhere between 12,100 to 80,000 pounds. That is 25 times heavier than the usual passenger vehicle. This means your truck takes longer to stop or maneuver. Keeping your mobility limitations in mind help you make better decisions while on the road.
Do not tailgate
According to studies, the trucks commonly hit the vehicles in front of them due to tailgating. Maintain proper space between you and the vehicle in front of you to give you ample time to stop or slow down when necessary.
Use brake and signal lights early
Many motorists are not aware how long it takes for a rig to come to a complete stop. Give your truck enough time and space to switch lanes, slow down or stop and inform those driving behind you ahead of time so they can react properly.
Use flashers and reflective triangles when necessary
If you’re driving below the speed limit for an extended period of time, make sure to use your truck’s flashers to alert other drivers. If you need to pull off to the side of the road or highway, always use flashers, reflective triangles, and road flares to notify incoming traffic of your position and situation.
Do not go above the 11-hour driving restriction
This limit is there for a reason: fatigue is your worst enemy in making good calls in road safety. Strictly adhere to this guideline and pull off the road whenever you feel sleepy or tired.
Sharing the road between large trucks and smaller vehicles need not be a daunting experience if all motorists take precaution and take into consideration the driving limits and hazards for both any automobile size. Stay predictable on the road, avoid road rage and be cautious at all times. Refer to this infographic from Tenge Law for more tips on how to drive safely with trucks.