How to Drive Defensively Around Large Trucks

Recently, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. reached an agreement with the children of late comedian James McNair, after one of their drivers fell asleep at the wheel of a Wal-Mart truck last June, hitting and killing McNair and severely injuring actor and comedian Tracy Morgan (30 Rock). McNair’s children are reported to receive a $10 million settlement for the loss of their father.

This tractor trailer accident brought truck safety laws to the forefront in U.S. news and social media. Trucking laws are being amended in many states, but it is important for other drivers on the road to know the best way to drive around large trucks to help prevent accidents.

Read the tips below from the truck accident lawyers at Pope & Howard, P.C. in Atlanta, Georgia, to learn how to share the road safely with tractor trailers.

Avoid Truck No-Zones

Trucking “No-Zones” are the large blind spots that truck drivers experience daily on the road. Trucks usually have four blind spots. One is directly in front of the truck. For other drivers, this means maintaining a safe distance in front of the truck driver. Squeezing in front of a large truck may seem like a good idea to change lanes, but remember that the driver most likely cannot see you or won’t have enough distance to stop.

Another blind spot is at the back of the truck. Many trucks carry open loads, and while their cargo is tied down, maintaining a safe distance can give you time to react if anything falls off their trailer.

There are also blind spots on each side, diagonal to the truck doors. A good rule of thumb when driving alongside a tractor trailer is that if you can’t see the driver in the side view mirrors, they can’t see you.

Give Trucks a Wide Berth

For semi-trucks and tractor trailers, every turn is a wide turn, so you – as a fellow driver – need to understand how to react. When a truck takes a turn, give them plenty of room to take the turn, keeping a safe distance until they’ve completely rounded the corner. Squeezing in between the truck and the side of the road is one of the top causes of trucking accidents, so do yourself and the truck driver a favor and wait for them to take the turn.

Don’t Follow Too Closely Behind Trucks

Trucks often carry large loads and the increased weight makes for an increased stopping distance. To protect yourself and your passengers, keep at least one truck length between you and the truck for every 10 mph you drive. If you’re going 40 mph, keep four truck lengths between you, and move out of the lane if the truck driver isn’t maintaining a safe distance.

Use Caution Around Trucks in Inclement Weather

Just like any vehicle, trucks need increased stopping distance in rain, snow or ice, so be sure to allow them ample room. Also recognize that their blind spots may increase in inclement weather and the spray from the back of their wheels can hinder your vision. During inclement weather, leave plenty of distance in front of a truck and behind a truck to help avoid an accident.

Learn to Pass Trucks the Right Way

When passing a big rig, try to pass from their left side, where they have the smallest blind spot. This allows the driver to see your car coming. Also, make sure to be well ahead, about one truck length per 10 mph, before getting over in their lane. Cutting in front of a truck forces them to drive with an unsafe stopping distance between your car and their truck.

Contact the Truck Accident Lawyers at Pope & Howard, P.C.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident, contact the tractor trailer accident lawyers at Pope & Howard, P.C. to seek justice and compensation for your losses: (404) 885-9999.

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