If you have ever traveled on a major highway between cities you have most likely encountered the large amounts of 18-wheelers out there. They are large, in charge, and working fast to ship goods all over the country. Because these trucks are so massive and working on quick schedules, it is often that fellow commuters’ safety can be compromised in the moment while a trucker makes a decision behind the wheel. Unfortunately, this results in a large portion of the highway trucking accidents and fatalities that are recorded each year.
If you are ever caught driving near large trucks and semis while on the highway, you know how dangerous it can be. You’ve seen how powerful they are and how much space they take up, not to mention you have probably scoped all the warning and hazard signs they have printed on the sides and back of the trailer to warn fellow travelers of the dangers. In order to avoid an accident that could cause both you and the trucker some serious injuries, take note of these three tips that could potentially save your life on your next road trip:
1. Don’t Turn Into A Blind Eye. When you’re traveling behind any semi truck that is currently complying with OSHA trucking regulations, you will more than likely be able to see at least one visible reminder of the blind spots a trucker has. It is important to not just glance at but actually take into consideration these signs and their messages. Lane changing into a truck’s blind spot can spell serious trouble in a matter of seconds should that large truck choose to change lanes as well. It is always easy to remember this: If you can’t see the truck’s mirrors then they cannot see you. This easy step will help keep you a safe distance away from the ‘danger zone’ that travels 80mph alongside these large trucks.
2. Remember The Draft. With trucks and 18-wheelers being so large, they are obviously fighting way more wind and aerodynamics when they barrel down the highway. As a result, these large trucks produce a rather strong draft that can be very deceiving to a passing vehicle. If you’re behind a truck, hopefully a safe distance, you won’t see any trouble in traveling because the the sheer size of the truck is breaking up all wind barrier in front of you and essentially creating a draft tunnel for you to easily drive in. However, since the truck is so large and tends to move slow when breaking strong winds, you might feel the urge to pass the truck. As a smaller car or SUV goes to pass a truck on the highway, they can sometimes experience sporadic bursts of win that could cause them to lose control of the vehicle and spin them either towards the truck or away and off the road. This is caused by the force of a draft line funneling the broken air into essentially a wake that spurs off the front end of a semi and tapers off down the side of the trailer. When a car enters it you feel the gust of wind make a push against your driving. Be sure to brace and prepare for a lane change and pass-up when you’re aware of high winds and an 18-wheeler present.
3. Recognize The Differences. Truckers are on the road to follow a strict schedule and deliver or ship a good. They are usually limited to the number of hours they get to sleep or even just be off the road and out of their truck. This can usually cause serious cases of spacing out and tiredness behind the wheel. Some truckers go entire states without stopping, and others lose time from being held up at weigh stations that they have to make up with agility and focus. In turn, they can pose a serious hazard to other drivers on the road if the truckers themselves are in good shape to drive. Always be aware of the time of day or night you are commuting and be aware of trucker behavior around you. If you see a trucker hauling very fast or switching lanes quickly, it is best to stay out of their way to avoid accident. Also beware of trucks that seem to be drifting a bit out of their lane as they might be driven by a tired and not fully alert driver. If you see any of these signs, keep your distance and notify a highway patrol officer if things continue to seem out of line.
Following what seems like these simple and basic steps can be a huge deciding factor between a high speed highway accident or not. Trucking injuries and accident fatalities seem to climb year after year as a result of incidents involving smaller commuter cars and large 18-wheeler trucks. It is important to remain safe, calm, and smart. In the event of an accident, should you have followed these steps you could be entitled to serious compensation for the distress you see as a result of a hazardous driving situation.
Zane Schwarzlose is a blogger for Colley and Colley LLP, a personal injury law firm in Austin. Zane thinks that the amount of Semis on the road in Austin is crazy.
Photo Credit: saaby