Sharing the Road with Big Rigs: Safety Tips for Highway Driving
If you travel on any major highways, you will likely be sharing the road with big rigs and 18-wheel vehicles. There are an estimated 250,000 accidents annually involving cars and 18-wheel trucks, and sharing the road with these vehicles is a lot different than traveling among other two-axle, passenger-type vehicles.
Here are some tips for staying safe when driving near big rigs and semi-trucks.
Make sure that you are seen. There are many blind-spots around a large truck or 18-wheeler, and that could cause the driver to hit or drive into your vehicle. The best rule of thumb is that if you can't see the driver's face in their side-mirror, then assume they can't see you.
Give them their space. Don't attempt to squeeze in between the driver and the median or a curb. If the driver is attempting to turn, they will need a wide space, and they are unable to see directly beside or behind the truck. Give them plenty of space and avoid getting smooshed.
Dim your lights. Keep your headlights dimmed when driving behind or passing a big truck. The reflection of the lights on their large side mirrors can cause a glare that may temporarily blind the driver, which could cause an unsafe scenario.
Avoid passing on the right. Even if it is legal in your state to pass on the right, you and other motorists will have far more visibility if you pass on the left of other vehicles, especially big trucks. Make sure you can see the entire cab of the truck in your rear-view mirror before using your turn signal and slowly making your way back into the lane of traffic. Keep in mind that the sheer size of the truck requires you to take more time to safely pass, and avoid cutting off the driver, which could result in dangerous situations.
Don't force them to stop quickly. Naturally, it will take longer for a big truck to come to a complete stop than it will a passenger car. In fact, it may take the length of a football field for an 18-wheel semi-truck to come to a stop, so avoid situations that may cause truck drivers to hit the brakes.
Don't send mixed messages. If you have heard that flashing your headlights near a big truck is the conventional protocol for passing safely, you are wrong. This is not a universal sign of anything; some drivers may think that you are informing them of police ahead, while others may think that it is a warning for trucks to change lanes. Avoid confusion, and don't send mixed messages to truck drivers.
Use extra caution and safety when sharing the road with 18-wheel vehicles. Avoid driving aggressively, as this can cause potentially dangerous situations for you and other drivers when traveling on the road with large trucks. Use these tips to prevent accidents and ensure all drivers get home safely!
If all else fails and you find yourself embroiled in a personal-injury lawsuit, seek out a truck-accident attorney for help. However, if you can avoid a collision by using these tips, then you should definitely do so.