7 Essential Tips for Avoiding Semi-Truck Accidents
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), nearly 5,000 traffic fatalities resulted from large truck crashes in 2021 alone. Additionally, there are tens of thousands more victims who experience personal injuries due to semi-truck accidents each year. Semi-trucks are very large and heavy vehicles that pose a significant risk to other drivers. Making the wrong move around these trucks can be deadly.
At the Law Office of Kyle W. Jones, we want to ensure that you are aware of potential hazards so that you can take steps to reduce the likelihood of a collision. Here are seven tips to help you stay safe when sharing our California roads with semi-trucks and other similarly sized vehicles.
1. Avoid Distracted Driving Activities
Anything can happen out on the road. Motorists make quick decisions all the time that you can’t expect without using defensive driving strategies. There are also various hazards on the roadways, such as construction areas and other road obstructions, and the speed of traffic on busy freeways can be unpredictable. To be prepared for these scenarios, it is imperative to avoid distractions as much as possible.
While you may believe that sending a quick text message is no big deal, the reality is that taking your eyes off the road for any amount of time—even for five seconds—is just too long. When semi-trucks are around, you need to avoid multitasking so that you can maintain awareness of what’s happening on the roadways. Distracting activities like texting or eating can divert your attention from the road, causing you to swerve into lanes unexpectantly or, even worse, hit another vehicle. This can be deadly when the collision involves a semi-truck. You should always err on the side of caution and keep your attention to where it belongs—on the road.
2. Keep a Safe Following Distance
It is crucial to maintain a safe following distance when you are sharing the road with semi-trucks. These large, heavy vehicles require more time to stop, and if you are too close to the rear of one, you increase your risk of running into it. This is especially dangerous at high speeds. Should the truck suddenly stop or slow down on the road, you need enough time to react to the change. A general rule of thumb is to maintain a following distance of four to six seconds, but you may need more depending on the traffic conditions. Exercise your best driving practices around semi-trucks—never tailgate or cut in front of one. These actions will increase your risk of a wreck.
3. Watch Out for Wide Turns
Semi-trucks have limited maneuverability due to their extended length, so they require more space to navigate turns on the road. You should always keep an eye out for truck signals and give the driver plenty of room to turn. If you notice a truck driver is signaling ahead of you, you shouldn’t try to race to get around them. They may not see you, which could result in a sudden collision. Instead, slow down your vehicle and allow the driver to make their turn. Being patient on the road with semi-trucks can help you prevent an unnecessary accident.
4. Use Caution in Inclement Weather
Driving in adverse weather is already challenging enough, but it grows even riskier with semi-trucks on the road. Rain, snow, fog, and strong winds can significantly impact your visibility and overall vehicle control. Use extra caution and follow all traffic laws during inclement weather. You should also keep in mind that semi-trucks will need more time to stop on wet or icy roads, so you should reduce your speed and use a greater following distance than normal. These actions will help you avoid weather-related semi-truck accidents.
5. Don’t Forget to Signal
Making sudden moves on a crowded roadway can be extremely dangerous for you and other motorists. You should always communicate your intentions to prevent accidents. As a driver, you do this primarily via your turn signals. Using your turn signals appropriately will alert other drivers when you are anticipating a lane change or want to exit off the roadway. This will give truck drivers enough time to adjust their speed or change lanes safely, ultimately reducing the risk of a collision.
6. Be Aware of Semi-Truck Blind Spots
To stay safe on the road, you should be aware of the different blind spots of semi-trucks. These trucks have greater blind spots than traditional passenger vehicles, including the direct front and rear of the truck as well as the sides near the rear wheels. The driver will likely not see you in these areas, so you should give the truck plenty of clearance when driving next to them or trying to pass them. Also, keep in mind that if you can’t see the driver in their side mirrors, they probably can’t see you either. Maintaining a safe distance from these blind spots can help you avoid an accident.
7. Use Defensive Driving Techniques
The best way to avoid a collision with a semi-truck is to always utilize defensive driving strategies. This means being proactive and taking steps to prevent accidents from happening in the first place. You can do this by always driving alert and keeping an eye out for any potential hazards on the road. It also means following all traffic laws. Stay within the speed limit, avoid tailgating, and monitor the behaviors of other drivers. If you notice anyone driving recklessly, you should get as far away from them as possible, even if that means pulling over to a safe location until they have passed you.
Be aware that semi-trucks often travel at a slower pace than passenger vehicles due to carrying heavy loads. It’s important to have patience and, if you want to pass, be sure to signal and move at a calm and steady speed. Ensure there is plenty of space between your vehicle and the truck before merging into its lane.
Avoiding semi-truck accidents requires a combination of caution, attentiveness, and safe driving practices. By following the tips above, you can significantly reduce your risk of being involved in a collision with a semi-truck.
Contact a Lawyer When You’ve Been in a Semi-Truck Accident
For even the best and safest drivers, some accidents are just unavoidable. If you happen to be involved in a collision with a semi-truck, you should contact an auto accident lawyer right away.
At the Law Office of Kyle W. Jones, we work with accident victims all over the Kern County area. We understand that every accident is different, so we take an individualized approach to each case that we handle. From police reports to witness statements and hospital records, we won’t leave any detail overlooked to support your claim. By taking a comprehensive approach, our goal is to maximize your compensation to help you on your road to recovery. We are proud to represent you in negotiations with insurance companies or even in litigation, if necessary.
If you have been injured due to a semi-truck accident, don’t hesitate to contact us today to set up a free, no-obligation consultation with an auto accident attorney in Bakersfield.