Due to their size and difficulty to control, large trucks can do a massive amount of damage when involved in accidents. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that 11% of all traffic accident deaths result from accidents involving large trucks. When passenger vehicles are involved in fatal accidents with tractor-trailers, the fatalities are disproportionately likely to be the passenger vehicle occupants rather than the truck drivers–67% of fatalities are passenger vehicle occupants, versus the 16% who are large truck occupants. After years of decline, it appears that the number of fatalities from large truck crashes is on the ascent, rising 14% between 2009 and 2013. While it may not be possible to control for all causes of accidents with large trucks, take steps to be as safe a driver as possible when driving near tractor-trailers and big rigs.
Provide plenty of warning before passing: A tractor-trailer can weigh up to 80,000 lbs when fully loaded—compare that to an average weight of 5,000 lbs for a passenger vehicle, and you can see why trucks require up to 40% longer to come to a complete stop. Add in wet or slippery roadway conditions or jeopardized brakes, and that distance can be even longer. Before you pass in front of a big rig, make sure that nothing you’re doing would force the truck to abruptly swerve or brake suddenly. Leave your turn signal on for long enough to feel certain that the driver has seen it. Before you pass, make sure that the entire front end of the truck is visible in your rear view mirror.
Stay away from No-Zones: Trucks have large blind spots on their sides and in the rear, where rear- and side-view mirrors are unable to reach, aptly called “no-zones.” In order to ensure that you’re always visible to a driver, don’t remain in these no-zones any longer than necessary to pass by the truck, and keep in mind that, if you can’t see the driver’s mirrors, there’s a good chance that the driver can’t see you.
Avoid being squeezed: Semis and big rigs need a wide radius to make turns. The narrower the street on which they’re turning, the wider the radius required. Thus, if you see a big gap in between a truck and the curb, don’t pull up in between the truck and the curb, or try to turn ahead of the truck. This could result in your car being squeezed and crushed between the curb and the truck when the truck makes its turn.
If you have been injured in a crash with a semi, big rig or tractor-trailer in Florida or Alabama, contact experienced truck accident personal injury attorneys Whibbs Stone Barnett, with locations in Pensacola, Mobile and Fort Walton Beach, at 1-888-219-4561.