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How safely do you drive around commercial trucks?

You may see commercial trucks on the road every time you drive. While these large vehicles may have intimidated you when you first learned to drive, your years of driving experience may allow you to feel more comfortable driving near them. However, it can be important to avoid becoming complacent around trucks.

Truck collisions may be more common and more hazardous than you realize. In 2017, over 4,000 people in the U.S. died in large truck crashes. Typically, when a truck and a passenger vehicle collide, the occupants of the smaller vehicle receive injuries that are much more severe than what the trucker receives. The reckless actions of truck drivers cause many of these collisions. However, your safe driving habits can help minimize your risk of being hit by a truck.

Avoid distractions

Those who drive professionally, like truckers, must always be mindful of their surroundings on the road, but sometimes that is not enough to prevent a collision. As another driver sharing the roadway, it is important that you are also attentive and mindful of your surroundings when driving.

To keep your attention fully focused on the task of driving, you must take steps to avoid driving distractions. Cellphone use may be one of the most common examples of driving distractions. However, anything that takes your eyes of the road, your hands off the wheel or your mind off driving is a distraction.

If you remain fully focused on driving, you will be able to react as soon as you see a potential threat on the roadway. This could be an unsecured item falling off the back of a truck, it could be the truck in front of you slamming on its breaks, a truck merging into you or any other possible threat to your safety.

Minimize the time you spend in blind spots

Many people who drive passenger vehicles do not realize that commercial trucks have large blind spots on all four sides. Staying out of these blind spots as much as possible can also help reduce your risk of colliding with a truck.

It may be safe to assume that if you cannot see the trucker’s face in the truck’s mirror, the trucker probably cannot see you. However, some safe driving habits can help keep you out of these blind spots as well.

Some of these safe habits include:

  • Waiting until you can see the truck’s headlights and front bumper in your rear-view mirror before merging in front of a truck.
  • Only passing a truck on the left side.
  • Avoiding lingering beside a truck when passing it.
  • Leaving a cushion of at least 30 feet between your vehicle and the back of a truck.
  • Not trying to squeeze next to a truck with the right turning signal on at an intersection.

It is important to make sure you are driving as safely as possible when near commercial trucks because injuries caused by truck collisions can be especially severe. However, the responsibility to behave safely on the road belongs to every driver. If you are injured in a collision caused by a reckless truck driver, keep in mind that it may be appropriate to seek justice.

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