Tips for sharing the road with tractor-trailers

We have all heard stories about violent collisions between a tractor-trailer and a passenger vehicle like a car, pickup truck or SUV. Naturally, you don’t want that to happen to you and your family.

You cannot control how safe the truck drivers passing through Lexington’s highways are, but you can make sure you are as safe as you can be while driving near these huge, powerful vehicles. Here are some tips from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for safely driving around semi trucks.

Semis have huge blind spots. Stay out of them.

A typical 18-wheeler has large blind spots on all four sides, especially in the back and on the right-hand side. The rear blind spot extends about 30 feet back, and the right-side blind spot reaches as far as two lanes away. The left-hand blind spot can cover any vehicle immediately next to the truck, and the front-side blind spot reaches about 20 feet in front of the bumper. If you find yourself in one these zones and you cannot see one of the truck’s mirrors, try to get away as quickly as you safely can.

Pass carefully

To pass a tractor-trailer, first look for the driver’s reflection in their side mirror. Always pass on the left. Signal your lane change and accelerate through the blind spot, until you are well in front of the truck. Wait until the tuck is visible in your side mirror before you change lanes in front of it. Avoid passing on downgrades, because semis tend to speed up when going downhill.

Keep well back

When driving behind an 18-wheeler, give it plenty of space. If you are too close, you will be in the driver’s rear blind spot. Your vehicle could slide beneath the trailer and get trapped.

Watch out for turns

If the trucker signals a turn, give it extra space. Semis often need to make extra-wide turns. Don’t try to squeeze by or get between the truck and the curb.

Have patience

18-wheelers need extra time to speed up and may have a speed limiter attached. Avoid the urge to tailgate, honk your horn or weave through traffic to pass the truck.

Besides these tips, making sure you are sober and alert can reduce the chances of a truck accident. If you do get hit, wearing your seatbelt can reduce your chances of serious injury.

Find out what your rights are

Following these tips could save your life someday. But ultimately, you cannot guarantee that you will not get hurt in a truck accident. If you do, you deserve to know if the accident was due to negligence by the driver or their employer. Talk to a personal injury attorney who represents victims of trucking accidents about what happened to you.


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