How to Practice Safe Driving Among Commercial Trucks on Pennsylvania Roadways
An estimated three million commercial trucks share the road with passenger vehicles yearly, moving over nine billion tons of freight. While it may be common to drive beside a big rig, it can still cause anxiety in some of us, and for practical reasons. Colliding with a semi can prove devastating for passenger vehicles. The size and weight discrepancy between an 18-wheeler and a four-wheeled car can lead to catastrophic injuries and serious property damage.
Understanding how to better share the road with large commercial trucks can help to avoid collisions. Big rigs have blind spots, areas where the driver loses sight of other vehicles on the road. A blind spot in a semi truck is large, and it presents one of the most dangerous aspects of these vehicles. There is one blind spot directly behind the truck in the same lane. Another blind spot is in front of the truck, and there is a blind spot on either side of the vehicle.
Tips for Staying Safe When Sharing the Road with a Commercial Truck
- Provide space when switching lanes or driving in front of a truck. The large size of a semi hood conceals the front of the truck. When you drive in front of a truck or are about to pull in front of one, be sure that you can see the entire front of the truck, including the headlights, in your rear view mirror.
- Maintain a safe following distance. Do not tailgate a commercial truck. Big rig drivers cannot see small vehicles that are located directly behind them. If you cannot see over the top of the semi, you are following too closely. This unsafe distance makes it challenging to anticipate anything in the road that may cause the truck driver to brake suddenly. A safe rule is to allow five seconds of following distance, or about 25 car lengths.
- Pass with care. Large commercial trucks have enormous blind spots that can extend a few lanes over. When you pass, signal early. Pass quickly once you begin, and if you cannot, fall behind so that you can be seen again.
- Keep clear of a truck turning right. If a commercial truck is turning right, they will need to be positioned far to the left as they approach. This wide berth can even require an extra lane. Sometimes bicyclists or motorcyclists want to slip into the gap between the truck and the curb. The danger is that the driver cannot see you, and you may be side-swiped by this enormous vehicle.
- Practice patience. Sharing the road with a semi-truck requires being patient. The gain in commute time by passing the truck or speeding is not worth the danger of a collision. Lingering in a truck’s blind spot or failing to pay attention to a signal can have dire consequences.
At Needle Law, our experienced Pennsylvania truck accident attorneys can help identify the potential causes of an accident and develop a strong case for a victim to be properly compensated. We provide a no-obligation consultation and can be reached by calling 570-344-1266.