The commercial transportation industry is one of the largest in the United States. Countless goods and services are transported across the country on a daily basis. While most tractor-trailers reach their destination and drop off their haul, a number end up in accidents that cause property damage and injuries. Some collisions claim lives.
Driving through heavy traffic on the highway can be stressful. When you add vehicles of different sizes, it’s even more important to remain aware and drive cautiously. It’s crucial to be aware of how to drive when large trucks are present. It’s likely, at some point during your drive, you will decide it’s time to pass a truck. When that time comes, knowing how to safely pass can be the difference between carrying on with your day or coping with a serious accident.
Commercial Vehicles and Their Blind Spots
The first step to understanding how to safely pass a trucker is to understand what they can see. You are likely well aware of your vehicle’s blind spots and know how to check them to make lane changes. Blind spots on tractor-trailers are considerably larger. If you drive in a trucker’s blind spot for any amount of time, they will not be aware of your presence. Remember, as a general rule, if you cannot see the driver in their vehicle’s side mirror, they cannot see you.
Trucks have blind spots on all four sides. The front blind spot extends twenty feet in front of the engine. If you are passing a truck and merge back to the right lane too quickly, the truck could potentially drive over the back of your vehicle. This referred to as an override accident – many of which are deadly.
The blind spot to the left extends for one lane. This is why it’s crucial to pass quickly and efficiently while keeping your vehicle steady. In the event the wind picks up and the trailer begins to sway, you could find yourself in a sideswipe accident. While a sideswipe accident between two vehicles generally only results in property damage, when a truck is involved the other driver could lose complete control of their vehicle.
On the right of the truck, there’s a blind spot that extends back for two lanes diagonally. When you are driving on a highway that has more than two lanes, it’s never a good idea to pass a truck on its right because of how far the blind spot extends. You could be in real danger if the truck does not see you and decides to get over.
The rear blind spot extends for 30 feet from the end of the trailer. Tailgating a truck could result in an underride accident, where the smaller vehicle ends up stuck underneath the back of the truck.
Sharing the Road with Tractor Trailers
Once you have a solid understanding of a trucker’s blind spots, you can take the following measures to pass safely. Always pass on the left side. Ensure you are not in the truckers rear blind spot, turn your left indicator on, and move into the left lane. Complete the pass promptly based on the traffic conditions you are in. If you realize you are stuck lingering next to the truck, try to position yourself so you can see the trucker in their side mirror. Once you are past, keep your speed up. Finally, make sure there is plenty of room before switching back in front of the truck while using your right indicator.
If a truck passes you, it’s a good idea to reduce your speed to shorten the time needed to complete the pass. Never speed up. Give the big rig as much space as you can and allow them to merge back while you’re still at a reasonable distance.
Unsafe Driving Habits to Avoid While Passing a Trucker
There are a number of driving acts you should not engage in when large commercial vehicles are nearby. Those habits include distracted driving, failing to obey traffic laws and signs, speeding, tailgating, abrupt lane changes, unsafe turning, and driving too fast for conditions. When you are the road with a tractor trailer, knowing what not to do is often just as important as knowing what to do.
Even when you do everything right and pass tractor trailers safely, there’s always the chance a wreck could occur. If you’ve been involved in a truck accident, the consequences can be devastating. In addition to dealing with physical injuries, you’ll likely have to cope with mental trauma and figure out how to handle the associated financial burdens. Our attorneys are dedicated to helping accident victims recover. If you’re looking to hold the negligent party accountable for what you’ve been through, contact our firm.