Trucks and tractor trailers are a common sight on the roads, especially in a bustling state like Alabama. As important as they are for the transportation of goods and materials, they are also notorious for the danger they pose to both themselves and everyone on the road around them. As a driver expected to share the roads with them, knowing how to act around these mobile giants can be a lifesaver.
Why are big trucks so dangerous?
Truck accidents are, unfortunately, not that uncommon, and trucks are much more dangerous thanks to their size, center of gravity, and even the materials they may carry. A “fender bender” with two sedans will usually just result in a bad day. Between a car and a truck? That’s a whole other story, especially since your typical 18-wheel tractor trailer is a whopping 80 feet long and around four tons heavy.
The scary thing is the truck only needs to be involved for it to do some serious damage to a smaller car and its inhabitants. In December of 2020, a couple was unfortunate enough to learn this first-hand — and it cost them their lives.
This particular situation was between an 18-wheel tractor trailer and an SUV. The tractor trailer was pulled over on the shoulder due to mechanical issues. The SUV lost control and veered off the road and into the back of the truck, becoming lodged almost entirely underneath it. Both occupants of the SUV died at the scene while the driver of the tractor trailer was entirely unharmed.
Tips for sharing the road with commercial trucks
Understanding the physics involved with a vehicle the size of a truck or tractor trailer, and knowing how to maneuver in the presence of one may minimize the chances of a fatal truck wreck by a significant margin. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration offers suggestions for driving with these beasts of transit:
- Stay out of the blind spots. Because of the large area and rectangular shape of trucks and tractor trailers, they have more blind spots than typical vehicles. If you’re not able to see the driver’s rearview mirrors, they probably can’t see you, and that is an accident waiting to happen.
- Use caution when passing. Again, make sure you can see the driver’s mirrors, and move out of their blind spots as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety. When you move in front of them, make sure to give them extra room in case they need to stop, as they need more space than you do to do so.
- Do not cut trucks off. Not only does this increase the risk of trucks ramming into you when trying to stop, but if you are in a blind spot, and the driver may not even know you’re there.
- Tailgating is really dangerous. Keep a safe distance from the back of a truck at all times. Most big rigs cannot stop on a dime, but if they hit the brakes and those brakes lock, they can skid out of jackknife, which is dangerous to everyone.
- Be ready for wide turns. Trucks have a large turning circle, especially if they’re turning to the right. Never get in between a truck and the curb.
- Exercise patience. We’ve all been the unlucky car stuck behind a truck that seems to be going extra slow just to annoy you personally. It is incredibly tempting to try and veer around them or honk your horn, but remember that a lot of trucks have speed limiters that prevent them from reaching a certain speed. Aggressive driving around a truck will not end well.
The other tips are your standard driving safety rules: buckle up, stay focused, don’t drive under the influence, and don’t drive when fatigued. Remember that these tips are not meant to criticize you as a driver, but to keep you safe and alive in the worst-case scenarios.
If you or a loved one sustained serious injury in a collision with a truck, Mezrano Law Firm can help. Our Alabama truck accident attorneys know exactly how devastating a collision like this can be, and they know how to help and get you the compensation and justice you deserve. We maintain offices in Birmingham, Mobile, Florence, Gadsden, Montgomery, and Tuscaloosa. Call us today at 205-206-6300 or fill out our contact form for more information.