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Last Modified: December 30, 2022

Driving Safely Around Semi-Trucks

Published on June 28, 2013 • Last updated December 30, 2022 by Ken Christensen
Topics: Truck Accidents

Accidents involving semi-trucks are no laughing matter. Given the size of semis, most of these accidents prove fatal. Driver Solutions has developed an easy to follow video that gives drivers insight into the safety precautions that must be taken when driving around trucks. Knowing how to navigate around and share the road with semis is more important than some people realize.

Case in point: Utah began to see a rise in semi-truck related accidents and fatalities. TACT Utah responded with heavier fines and PSA’s all over the freeway. The ads said, “Cutting off a semi may cost you a $750 fine…if you survive.” The increased fines and heavy PSA’s are a testament to the seriousness of what driving irresponsibly around semis can result in.

The video is full of 10 tips to drive safely around semi-trucks and is helpful for semi drivers themselves, as it shows behaviors to watch for in other drivers.

1. Avoid Blind Spots

Remember that semi trucks have four blind spots: back, sides, and FRONT. Drivers may forget about the front blindspot because cars don’t have them. However, forgetting about this one could cause you to be rear ended by a diesel. In fact,1/3 of all fatal crashes involving trucks are a result of driving in these spots.

You may recall many signs on the back of the semi trailers telling you, “If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you.” If a truck driver cannot see you, he doesn’t know that he cannot safely change lanes without hitting you.

2. Pass Trucks with Caution

It is important for every motorist to always pass on the left side, regardless of the vehicle. However, it is especially crucial when passing semis that you pass on the left. The driver has maximum visibility on this side.

It is also important that you do not hang out on the side of a semi truck. If you are going to pass, pass! Make sure you do it with a constant speed that gets that ensures you pass in a timely manner.

3. Don’t Linger Near the Truck

As mentioned earlier, don’t hang out by the side of the truck. But it is also important that you don’t drive too closely behind or in front of a truck. Not only are blind spots an issue here, but also other factors including debris flying from the truck and high winds that can cause the truck to tip.

The recommended following distance is at least 4 seconds.

4. Don’t Cut Trucks Off

This is the issue that caused Utah to develop a larger fine. Large trucks are like trains in that they simply cannot stop quickly. It can take a heavy semi 300 feet to safely stop when traveling at 55 mph.

NEVER cut a semi truck off. The odds of surviving a rear-end collision with a semi-truck are slim at best.

5. Allow Space Between Trailer and Curb

When trucks turn they must swing wide, but the wheels of the trailer do not follow this same path. If you don’t give the truck enough space, you could end up trapped. See the video for a nice visualization of this tip.

6. Practice Patience

Sometimes people get frustrated around truckers, and this leads to making split second, erratic moves that can lead to death. Try to remember that stopping speed, visibility, and ease of movement are simply not the same for trucks.

7. Lower Your Brights

Bright lights will reflect off of the truck’s mirror and blind the driver’s vision. Driver Solutions recommends that you dim your lights when coming within 1 block of a vehicle.

8. Signal Sooner

The rule you should follow in any situation is to signal three seconds before changing lanes. This is especially important in the case of driving around trucks because truckers need more time to slow or stop than car motorists do.

9. Merge with Care

If possible, avoid merging in front of semi-trucks. This is for several reasons, many of which have already been discussed. First, trucks cannot slow down quickly, and second, truckers have a blind spot in front.

If a truck passes you, decelerate to allow the passing time to be quicker, so as to avoid lingering in the blind spot.

10. Pay Attention

Distracted driving is always dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. But when near a semi, distracted driving is even more risky. Put your phone away while driving, and do your makeup and eat before you leave the house.

Distracted driving contributes to 2 out of 10 injury accidents and 9 out of 10 fatal crashes.

Good Guys Injury Law specializes in personal injury law. If you have been involved in an accident involving a truck, due to the driver’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Please call us at (801) 506-0800 for a free and confidential consultation.

Photo courtesy of KOMUnews.

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