If your car is anything like most, it probably weighs around 5,000 pounds. The average semi truck weighs 80,000 pounds. That’s before any trailers are attached, which can be up to 73,500 pounds on their own. Needless to say, an 18-wheeler is the last thing you want to see barreling into traffic.
Unfortunately, this happens all too often on American roads. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported that there were 4,136 deaths involving large trucks in 2018. Among those that were two-vehicle crashes, occupants of passenger vehicles made up an alarming 96 percent of fatalities.
People who operate huge semis are some of the most well-trained drivers on the road, but they’re also notorious for being fatigued and overworked. Many spend up to 11 hours per day behind the wheel. Their vehicles also require more space to stop, turn and maneuver.
While those factors mostly lie beyond our control, we can all take steps to keep ourselves safer when sharing motorways with 18-wheelers. Here’s how.
Know the Blind Spots
It’s common knowledge to keep a safe following distance from any vehicle when driving. Large trucks need additional room to brake, so you also need to stay at least four car lengths ahead when there’s one behind you. Another difference between semis and normal cars are their blinds spots, which include:
- 200 feet after the trailer
- 20 feet in front
- Either side of the cab
- Under the mirrors
Distracted driving is prevalent among truckers and motorists alike. Many accidents stem from overlooking other vehicles and failing to take notice of their movements.
When driving near a semi, pay attention to the cargo and anything that suggests the load wasn’t properly secured. Keep an eye on who’s operating the truck and increase your distance if they appear tired or distracted. You should also analyze the movements of the truck and look out for any swaying or use of turn signals.
Despite your best efforts, the risk of getting into an accident with an 18-wheeler or any other vehicle will always prevail.
If you haven’t already, it helps to invest in an insurance policy that protects your finances and covers healthcare in the event of a crash. You should also keep the contact details for a reputable semi-truck accident attorney readily available. Having the right legal expertise by your side is often the only way to ensure that you’re compensated fairly.
Use Your Lights
Truck drivers are easily blinded by other cars at night due to their large mirrors. It’s a good idea to disable your brights when passing an 18-wheeler. No less important is making proper use of turn signals. Remember that semis will often help out and flash their indicators to let you know that you can pass.
Finally, aim to stay alert at all times. Pay attention to other vehicles, traffic flow, signs and factors such as weather before acting accordingly. Take responsibility and rather assume that truck drivers cannot see you and yield to them just in case.
Consistently practicing these measures is easier than you might think. With a bit of due diligence, you can make the road a much safer place for yourself and others.