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Chicago Personal Injury Blog

Driving Defensively Around Semis

by Jared Staver in Auto Accidents, Personal Injury

While we may hate it sometimes, the fact is that we must share the road with semi-trucks. We pass these trucks every day on highways and other roads, but despite this, most drivers get nervous driving around large trucks. It turns out that we have good reason to get nervous; truck drivers are significantly more likely to get into an accident on the road than drivers in cars.

Some of this is caused by industry problems. Truck drivers spend so much time on the road that they may find themselves unusually tired or distracted. Sometimes they feel pressure to meet delivery deadlines and end up driving faster or more recklessly than is appropriate. While it may be easy to blame truck drivers for all accidents due to these problems, more than 72 percent of multi-vehicle accidents that involve trucks are actually the fault of the other driver. It seems that we do not know how to safely around semi-trucks. In order to keep your family safe on the road, you should stick to the following tips on driving defensively around semi-trucks and tractor-trailers.

  • Stay out of the truck’s blind spots. A semi-truck is huge, meaning that it has similarly large blind spots. Generally, if you can’t see the driver in his side mirror, the driver can’t see you. On the right side of a truck, the blind spot is particularly large. If a trucker needs to change lanes and has not seen a car in his mirrors for a short while, the driver must simply assume that no one is there and proceed. By staying in a blind spot, you put yourself in danger of an accident.
  • Respect a truck’s stopping distance, and avoid pulling in front of a semi. You may see a clear spot between a car and a semi-truck and be tempted to use it to pass another car, but be careful. It takes much longer for a truck to stop than a car, so that large distance is actually the safe stopping distance the driver requires. If you need to stop or slow down quickly, the truck may lose control.
  • Avoid driving directly next to a truck’s tire. Blowouts are common on semis, because the 80,000+ lbs of cargo puts excessive pressure on the tires. If you are next to the tire when it blows, the force of the damage could cause you to crash. Plus, the sound alone is enough to scare even the most experienced drivers. You could jump and drive out of your lane.
  • Hug the outside of the lane on the left side of the truck when you pass. It is always best to give the drive as wide of a berth as possible to avoid causing problems.
  • Keep in mind that a truck makes extremely wide turns, so pulling up right beside a truck that plans on turning is a bad idea. You could get run over. You may see the extra space and think the truck is hogging the road, but it is a necessity. People cutting beside a semi as it turns is one of the most common causes of accidents involving trucks.
  • Use added caution around trucks in bad weather. While bad weather always requires extra caution on the road, this is especially true when sharing with tractor-trailers. The added surface area means high winds can blow over a truck more easily. Plus, it makes stopping that much more difficult for truck drivers.
  • Look out for runaway trucks behind you. Sometimes mechanical failures happen, causing trucks to pick up speed out of control. When you see this get as far away from the truck as possible, even pulling over if you can. Allow the truck to pass you and pull into a runaway truck ramp.
  • Be a responsible driver. It may seem unfair, but trucks have less control than smaller cars, so much of the responsibility to avoid accidents falls on you. Don’t drive distracted or drowsy and follow the rules of the road in order to better avoid problems.

While we can’t avoid all problems with semi-trucks, it is always best to do everything you can to minimize risks. In an accident, most cars will come off much worse than the truck, no matter whose fault the accident is. Be aware of semis, and make sure to do everything you can to coexist with them peacefully.

Unfortunately, even when you do everything right, sometimes accidents happen. If you find yourself injured in a Chicago truck accident as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may deserve compensation. Contact our Chicago truck accident attorneys today at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. to see how we may be able to help at a free consultation. Make your appointment by calling (312) 236-2900 now.