LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Timothy J. O'Hare | Jun 21, 2011

Safety Tips for Sharing the Road with 18-Wheelers

Traffic accidents involving semi tractor-trailers can be some of the most horrific wrecks a personal injury lawyer ever sees. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 450,000 accidents involving large trucks occur every year in the U.S. At least 5,000 motorists die every year as a result of an accident involving a semi and approximately 140,000 people are seriously injured in large truck accidents each year. Of those killed, 74 percent are occupants of a passenger car, while only 16 percent are occupants of the truck. Large trucks, such as semi trucks, big rigs, 18-wheelers and tractor-trailers are significantly larger than passenger cars, and can weigh as much as 30 times more than a passenger car. Their size alone makes them dangerous for passenger cars, and due to their large size, it takes a semi far longer to come to a stop than a passenger car. For example, a semi truck that is moving at 55 miles per hour can take the length of a football field to come to a complete stop. Not all car accidents are unavoidable, but there are still many steps you can take as a driver to protect yourself and your passengers from an accident that could lead to serious injury or death. Keep yourself and your family safe by following these driving guidelines regarding large trucks. Treat trucks differently than other cars. Due to their size, it is nearly impossible for semi trucks to come to a sudden stop. Avoid cutting off a semi in traffic or putting yourself in a situation where you may have to suddenly stop in front of a semi. The size of an 18-wheeler also makes it difficult for the truck driver to change lanes. Avoid driving directly next to a large truck for a long time. Stay visible. Driving next to a semi or directly behind one can make it very difficult for the truck driver to see you. Do not follow too closely or stay directly next to an 18-wheeler. A general rule is that if you cannot see the truck's side mirrors, the driver cannot see you. Do not stop on the side of the road. If you have to stop your vehicle for some reason, avoid stopping on the shoulder of the road. Truck drivers may not see you stopped until it is too late. If you must stop, try to pull completely off of the road, either into the grass or onto a side road. If you do stop on the side of the road, do not stay in your car. Get out and move away from traffic. The best advice for keeping yourself safe on the road with large trucks is to drive with caution, knowing the added difficulty large truck drivers face when it comes to sudden stops, changing lanes or adverse weather.

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