Safety Pointers When Driving Next to a Truck
March 4th, 2020 by Fix Auto USA
Sharing the road with large trucks can be intimidating, even for an experienced driver. With the right approach to sharing the road with trucks, you can limit risk any time you drive next to a truck.
Are Large Truck Crashes Common?
Large truck crashes are major problems across the United States. Consider the following statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS):
- 4,136 people died in large truck crashes in 2018; among these deaths, 67% were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles.
- 11% of all motor vehicle crash deaths in 2018 took place in large truck crashes.
Large truck crashes are sometimes unavoidable. However, drivers who take the necessary precautions when sharing the road with large trucks can minimize the risk of crashes.
What Are the Risks Associated with Driving Next to a Large Truck?
Large trucks typically weigh 20 to 30 times more than traditional passenger cars, IIHS points out. Meanwhile, large trucks generally require more time to come to a complete stop than smaller vehicles. If a smaller vehicle is unprepared for a large truck that suddenly stops, it risks a crash that could result in injuries or death.
Fatigue is sometimes an issue for drivers of large trucks, too. In certain instances, drivers of large trucks are permitted to drive up to 11 consecutive hours, IIHS states. If a driver of a large truck feels tired due to an extended period on the road, this individual may experience delayed reaction times and poor coordination. As such, this driver may be more prone to crashes than other drivers.
Tips to Drive Safely Next to a Large Truck
It often helps to err on the side of caution when sharing the road with large trucks. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to overcome the fear of driving next to big trucks and ensure you are safely sharing the road with trucks, such as:
1. Beware Blind Spots
When it comes to large truck blind spots, drive carefully. You should always put your car in a position where the driver of a large truck can see you in the side mirrors. If you believe your vehicle is inadvertently in a large truck’s blind spot, you have two options: slow down so the driver of the truck can see you, or move ahead of the truck.
2. Pass with Caution
Let’s face it — being stuck behind a large slow-moving truck can be frustrating at times. But if you want to pass a large truck, it is crucial to do so cautiously. First, approach a large truck from the left side and signal clearly. You can then move ahead of the truck and merge back into the lane in front of it.
3. Maintain a Safe Distance
Give yourself plenty of space when sharing the road with large trucks. Typically, it helps to create as much space as you can between yourself and a large truck, as this reduces the risk of a collision. Maintaining ample space between yourself and a large truck also provides you with more time to react if a truck experiences a tire blowout or rollover.
4. Wear Your Seat Belt
Seat belt laws are in place for a reason — to help you remain safe, regardless of whether you are sharing the road with trucks. By buckling up every time you drive, you can stay in place and lower your risk of serious injuries or death due to a truck accident.
5. Prepare for Wide Turns
A large truck requires more room to turn than a small passenger vehicle. Thus, if you see a large truck driving next to you activate its turn signal, you need to plan accordingly. In this instance, you should prepare for a large truck to swing wide as it turns due to the vehicle’s size. So, whenever possible, give a large truck as much space as you can so it can complete its turn.
6. Avoid Drowsy Driving
Driving requires your full attention, but drowsiness can hamper your ability to stay in your lane when driving next to a large truck. If you feel worn out due to driving for an extended period of time, take a break. Then, you can return to the road feeling refreshed and rejuvenated — and maintain your focus.
7. Don’t Drive Under the Influence
There is no reason to use alcohol or drugs if you plan to drive. Alcohol slows reaction times and impairs judgement, and driving under the influence is inexcusable under any circumstance. The use of illicit drugs can have severe effects on your ability to drive safely, too. And, if you use over the counter or prescription medications that cause dizziness or other side effects, ask a friend or family member to drive in your place.
8. Stay Patient
Driving next to a large truck may cause your stress levels to rise. But, as you drive alongside a large truck, it is crucial to remain patient. If you avoid aggressive driving behaviors like honking your horn or weaving in and out of traffic, you can limit the risk of distracting the driver of a large truck. Best of all, you can increase the likelihood that all other drivers on the road can safely travel to their desired destinations.
Don’t put yourself or other drivers in danger when driving next to a large truck — use the tips above and you can safely share the road with large trucks.
This blog post was contributed by Fix Auto Anaheim, a leading industry expert and collision repair shop servicing the Anaheim and Orange County area.
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