7 Tips on How To Drive Safely with Semi Trucks

Whether you are traveling on a freeway or a surface street, driving alongside a semi-truck is essentially an everyday occurrence, yet it poses unique challenges and risks. Semi-trucks, also known as tractor-trailers, are extremely large vehicles that are both heavier and longer than passenger vehicles. The large size of a semi-truck comes with longer stopping distances, larger blind spots, and limited maneuverability. Getting into an accident that is caused by a semi truck can typically result in serious injuries and even death. To help ensure safety on the roads for you and all other drivers, it is crucial that we understand how to safely share the road with these large trucks. Here are essential tips and key things that you should look out for when driving near semi-trucks.

1. Understand a Truck’s Blind Spots

Semi-trucks have substantial blind spots on all four sides of the vehicles, these are commonly referred to as the “No-Zones.” There is one blind spot directly in front of the vehicle that is roughly 20 feet long, on the left side of the vehicle spanning the length of one lane, the right side of the vehicle spanning two lanes, and one directly behind the vehicle spanning roughly 30 feet. 

When driving next to a semi-truck it is crucial to your safety that you are not lingering in these zones. To help stay out of these blind spots remember this rule of thumb, if you cannot see the driver’s reflection in the side mirror then assume that they can’t see you.

2. Give Them Room

Trucks need a lot more room to maneuver as they are much larger vehicles, especially when they are turning. A semi-truck might swing wide or start their turn from the middle lane, so try your best to stay aware of this. Semi-trucks will oftentimes have to use multiple lanes to make a turn, especially when turning right. When you are driving, always assume a semi-truck is going to be taking a wide turn to avoid being squished in between the truck and the curb.

3. Keep Your Distance

A truck can take a long time to stop so it is best to maintain a safe following distance when traveling behind a semi. A semi truck can obstruct your view of the road ahead and can kick up debris that could damage your vehicle or windshield. Following too closely to the vehicle also puts you right in the truck’s rear blind spot, which can greatly increase your risk of getting into an accident. As a ground rule, ensure that there is at least a four second gap between your vehicle and a semi-truck. This space gives you more time to react to any debris in the road and can help you avoid a crash if the vehicle stops abruptly.

4. Pass Safely

When you are attempting to pass a semi, always do so on the left side of the vehicle, as the driver has much better visibility. Make sure that you signal your intention to turn clearly and well before you begin to pass.Once you are attempting to pass the truck, make sure that you can see the front of the truck and their headlights in the rearview mirror before you pull into the lane, as this means you are outside of their front blindspot. Also avoid passing a semi-truck on a downgrade or downhill, a semi can pick up speed and have trouble stopping which can result in an accident.

5. Be Cautious in Bad Weather

When driving in adverse weather conditions like rain, snow, or heavy wind trucks can become incredibly dangerous to drive with. During wet or rainy weather a semi-truck can create a large spray of water which can decrease your visibility dramatically making it much more dangerous to drive. In windy conditions, trucks are very top heavy, which makes them much more susceptible to swaying and sudden movements. When traveling in poor weather conditions around tractor-trailers increase your following distance and pass with added caution.

6. Avoid Distractions

Avoiding distractions is key to your safety in general when driving, but it is especially important when driving around a semi-truck. While you are at the wheel, avoid using your phone, eating, or any other activities that have the capacity to take your focus off of the road. Remember while you are driving stay alert and keep your eyes on the road and your mirrors, this will allow you to react quickly to any changes in the road if necessary.

7. Be Predictable

While driving, be diligent about using your turn signals when making lane changes, and make all lane changes and speed adjustments as smoothly and predictably as possible. Doing this will give truck drivers clear indications of your intentions and give them adequate time to react. Abrupt lane changes, unpredictable actions, or sudden stops are some of the most common causes of semi truck accidents, and can lead to serious injuries.

What a Semi Truck Lawyer Can Do For You

In the event that you have gotten into a semi-truck accident you may not know what your next course of action should be. When in doubt make sure that you contact a semi truck accident attorney. Your skilled injury attorneys will be able to help you throughout every step of the legal process. They will open an insurance claim for you, gather all evidence to prove who was at fault for the accident, and fight with the insurance company to make sure that you get the compensation you deserve. 

Driving with semi-trucks should not be stressful. We encounter semi-trucks on a daily basis and we should not be afraid to drive next to them with the fear of getting injured. By following the steps listed above you will be able to have a safer drive for both you and semi-truck driver’s everywhere. Remember, patience and caution are key when driving near semi trucks, and your awareness and considerate driving make all of the difference. 

But, if something does go wrong and you or someone you know are injured in a semi-truck crash, do not hesitate to contact the best semi-truck lawyers in Utah. At LifeLaw Personal Injury our team of Utah accident attorneys will fight for your rights every step of the way, ensuring that you feel heard with our best in class client communication. Let us fret over every detail of your case so you can focus on what is really important, your recovery. If you were hurt by the negligence of someone else, contact us today for a free consultation and to discuss your options further.