Tips to Avoiding Truck Accidents

When the average car suddenly meets an 18-wheeler weighing as much as 80,000 pounds and traveling at a speed of 60 miles per hour, enormous damage and injury are inevitable. Due to their enormous size and weight, semi-trucks can cause dangerous accidents, resulting in catastrophic injuries or fatalities.

As a responsible motorist, there are a few things you can do to help prevent a tragic accident.

  1. Stay Out of Blind Spots: Tractor-trailers have huge blinds spots – meaning you can see them, but they cannot see you. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) recommends a simple way to tell if you are in a blind spot: if you cannot see the driver in their side mirror, they most likely cannot see you. This includes leaving a large following distance behind a truck. As you can see below, the area immediately behind a truck is one of its many blind spots.

    Image courtesy of the State of California DMV;
  2. Don’t Cut Off a Truck: If you’re looking for a chance to change lanes, and you see a space just in front of a truck, stay OUT of its way! Trucks leave large following distances because it takes them longer to slow down. Leaving this space is essential to not rear-ending the car in front of them.
  3. Pay Extra Attention When Passing: We understand how frustrating it can be to be stuck behind a slow-moving truck. Remember that when you pass, you should maintain a consistent speed, and always pass on the left side. The right side of the truck has a much larger blind spot, making an accident much more likely.
  4. Signal your Intent: You should always use your turn signals, but it is extra important to do so when changing lanes near a truck. Truck drivers rely on these signals to understand what is happening on the road.
  5. Watch Their Signals: When you see a truck with its turn signal on, slow down and let the truck change lanes. Trying to speed up to ‘beat’ the truck is an easy way to get yourself caught in a blind spot. Trucks that are turning will need extra time and space to do so. Trucks will swing right for a left turn and left for a right turn. Never drive between a turning truck and the side of the road.
  6. Be Accommodating on Hills: The Virginia DMV recommends accommodating trucks with your speed when driving on inclines. When driving down a hill with a truck behind you, you can speed up slightly when it is safe to do so. The truck or bus driver may be trying to slow down safely without losing the momentum needed to climb the next hill at a reasonable speed. Speeding up may allow you to keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the truck.
  7. Keep Steady During Inclement Weather: When approaching a truck, you may notice they can sometimes create turbulence in the air to the sides. This effect can be worse when the roads are slick – keep a steady grip on your steering wheel, and turn on your wipers, when driving near a tractor-trailer.
  8. Drive with Your Headlights On: In Virginia, it is the law to have your headlights on if your windshield wipers are in use. This is because rain, sleet, and snow reduce your visibility. Some drivers choose to drive with their headlights on at all times, helping to increase general visibility. This can be particularly helpful when driving near a truck, since they may see your headlights before they see you.

Truck accident cases are complex, and determining fault requires fast action and proper resources. Many factors must be assessed to determine all responsible parties. Drivers may be contracted to a company, vehicles are often leased, and it’s often difficult to tell who is responsible. As soon as you contact the tractor-trailer accident attorneys at Collier & Collier, our investigators can quickly go to the scene of your accident and begin research immediately.

Contact us at 804-364-5200 for a free consultation to discuss your case. Let us put our resources to work for YOU.

For more information regarding large truck safety, visit the Virginia DMV’s website.