Sharing the road with trucks requires motorists to remain alert. While trucks move slower than most vehicles, their size makes them more dangerous when they are involved in accidents. Some truck drivers increase this risk by working while fatigued and operating trucks that have mechanical issues. And some motorists drive too close to trucks and cannot be seen in the driver’s blind spots. By understanding the dangers that trucks pose, you can protect yourself when you encounter them on the road.
Common issues that truckers face
Federal law prohibits truck drivers from working more than 60 hours per week. Yet, many drivers violate this law, and nearly one in five work over 75 hours per week. Working round-the-clock causes many truck drivers to feel fatigued. As a result, they face an increased accident risk because their reaction time may be delayed, and because they may have difficulty staying alert and focused.
Some trucking companies also skimp on repairs for their fleet, leaving drivers to hit the road in defective rigs. Trucks, by law, must go through periodic inspections and maintenance. Yet, these procedures take time and money, and companies sometimes fail to conduct them. Neglecting to do so, though, contributes to truck accidents, which often stem from unaddressed brake or tire issues.
Protecting yourself around trucks
Exercising caution near trucks is crucial, since you cannot predict how well-maintained they are. Nor can you tell how alert truck drivers are until you pass them. Protecting yourself, though, can sometimes be as easy as avoiding a truck’s blind spots. Specifically, you will want to stay more than 30 feet behind a truck and more than 20 feet ahead of it. You will also want to remain one lane to a truck’s left and two lanes to its right. If you find yourself closer, you will want to pass – or move further ahead of – the truck, or merge to avoid it.
You must also be careful when passing trucks. You will want to complete your pass in the left lane and as fast as possible. By doing so, you can spend minimal time in a truck driver’s blind spots. If you cannot see the driver in their side mirror, you will want to wait to pass the truck until they are visible. Upon completing your pass, make sure you can see the truck in your rearview mirror before changing lanes.
You must take caution, too, when you notice a truck making a right-hand turn. Trucks make wide turns and will often start them from the middle lane of a road. If you need to continue straight at the intersection, you must make sure you are outside of the tracks of the truck and its trailer.