Whether you are driving a long distance on a highway road trip with your family or are simply commuting to work in the morning, chances are likely you will encounter a large commercial truck on your drive. While these trucks are necessary to keep the economy running in the U.S., they are also involved in more than 100,000 crashes per year, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).1
Because of the inherent risks of injury that exist when driving on the highway near tractor-trailers, it is essential that every driver knows how to protect themselves and avoid a crash whenever possible. The following are only some ways you can protect yourself from a highway truck accident.
If you know the most common reasons for truck crashes, you may be able to recognize the signs that an accident may be about to occur. Some of these common causes include:
For example, if you see a trailer suddenly start swinging from side to side on the back of a truck, it may be an indication that the coupling is failing or the trailer is off balance and that a jackknife may occur. This should be a sign to slow down and stay out of the path of the truck or on the side of the truck at all costs.
We have all likely seen a car swerving, departing its lane, over-correcting, or making other sudden and unusual maneuvers. These are generally signs that the driver is engaging in distracted driving, is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or may even be falling asleep at the wheel. The same is true for truck drivers and you should stay as far away as possible from trucks that are moving in an unusual manner.
In addition, many truck drivers may engage in aggressive driving if they are impatient or encounter slower traffic and this can be especially dangerous. Signs that a truck driver is aggressive include:
If a truck driver seems aggressive, give them plenty of room on the road. You should never try to engage in a confrontation or stand your ground against a large semi truck. Instead, it is a good idea to diffuse the situation by refraining from returning any comments or gestures and by moving out of their way. If a truck driver follows you on an exit and you believe you may be at risk, call the police.
“No-zones” are the blind spots on a large truck and they can be substantial. No-zones exist behind the trailer, alongside both sides of the trailer, directly in front of the trailer, and next to the passenger side door of the tractor. If you need to pass a truck or drive in a no-zone, do so quickly and try to get out of the no-zone as soon as possible. Always remember that you should be able to see the truck driver – either directly or in the rear view mirror – or else the truck driver likely cannot see you.
When a truck driver has an issue on the road, they may not be able to make it to a truck stop and they may pull over on the shoulder of the highway or of an exit ramp. While truck drivers have a particular protocol they should follow when pulled over,2 they do not always take all necessary steps. You can increase your safety by trying to never pass directly by a pulled over truck and instead move over to an outer lane, which can help avoid a collision with the trailer.
Even if you are as careful as possible, you may still be injured in a crash with a commercial driver. At The Levin Firm, we know how serious such injuries can be and how complex truck cases can get. We regularly represent truck accident victims and help them recover financially. Call a Philadelphia truck accident attorney at (215) 825-5183 for help today.
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