Large trucks, also known as tractor-trailers and semi-trucks, are designed to efficiently haul tons of goods over long distances. Their size and limited maneuverability, however, mean that if they are involved in a crash, the damage can be devastating.
Wrecks involving tractor-trailers killed more than 4,700 people in the U.S. in 2017 — 195 of these fatal accidents occurred in Georgia. In fact, Georgia has a higher fatal truck accident rate than the national average.
The odds of walking away from a semi-truck accident are much lower than an incident involving a passenger vehicle. Protect yourself with the following defensive driving tips to minimize the risk of a crash for you and your passengers.
Give Trucks More Room
Keep as much distance as you can between you and a semi-truck. If you feel like a truck is following too closely, move to another lane. Tractor-trailers need much more time and room to slow down. Some trucks weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded — that’s 20 times more than the average passenger car.
More room also gives you more time to react in case something goes wrong. A truck driver may need to slam on the brakes or swerve out of the way, or the load it is carrying suddenly comes undone, spilling onto the road or highway. Driving too closely behind a tractor-trailer puts you in danger of getting hit by tumbling cargo or crashing into the underside of the truck.
Stay Out of a Truck’s Blind Spots
Trucks have several, large blind spots around their vehicle, sometimes referred to as “no-zones.” If you can’t see a tractor-trailer’s mirrors or the driver’s face in the mirrors, you are most likely in a blind spot.
- Behind the trailer: Give trucks at least 30 feet of room when behind them.
- Left side: Stay away from the area under the left cab mirror.
- In front of the cab: Keep at least 20 feet between you and a truck.
- Right Side: Avoid the extended area under the left cab mirror.
Help truck drivers navigate safely by staying visible. Avoiding no-zones isn’t always possible, especially in heavy traffic. Stay alert and drive responsibly.
Pass a Tractor-Trailer With Caution
- Never cross a double-yellow line to pass a semi-truck. It is illegal for good reason — you can’t see what’s coming from the other direction.
- It is better to pass trucks from the left side, where drivers can more easily see your vehicle.
- Use turn signals well in advance of switching lanes so the truck driver is prepared for the merge.
- When attempting to pass, make sure you can see the front of the truck in your rear-view mirror before merging ahead
- Never dart in front of a large truck. Trucks need a greater amount of space to slow down, especially in heavy traffic. A fully-loaded truck going 65 mph takes about 300 feet to come to a full stop after hitting the brakes.
- Watch out for exploding truck tires! Semi-trucks regularly lose tires due to so much wear and tear. A busted tire could cause a driver to lose control or send chunks of rubber into the road. Yet another good reason to keep your distance from these motorized giants.
Use Common Sense and Common Courtesy
Driving is not a race — treat other drivers with respect and follow the laws of the road. Think everyone should use turn signals and slow down? Model the behavior you want to see. But if someone makes a mistake or isn’t following the rules, remain calm.
Check your mirrors regularly and avoid distractions. These simple actions can save a great deal of frustration and pain.
Georgia Truck Accident Attorneys
Atlanta and its interstates are a major hub for semi-truck traffic. Thousands of trucks use I-285, I-75, I-85, and I-20 to travel around the state or between states. Our roads are crowded and they are only projected to become even more crowded in the coming years.
The vast majority of truck drivers are hardworking and professional. But one mistake or negligent decision could cost you everything.
You don’t have to deal with the fallout and devastation alone. Talk to an attorney who knows the trucking industry and personal injury law. Call Gary Martin Hays & Associates today at (770) 934-8000 or contact us online.
Attorney Gary Martin Hays been practicing personal injury law for over 30 years and handled numerous large truck accident cases. We’ll investigate the wreck and make sure the trucking company and their insurance fully compensate you for your losses.