Learn how to avoid an accident with a big rig in the Lone Star State
In Texas, you’re required by law to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in order to operate a large commercial truck. In addition to filling out a lengthy application, passing a background check, and providing certification of medical status, you must undergo training and pass a test in order to obtain a CDL.
Despite the state’s attempt to ensure that only qualified people operate large commercial trucks, accidents do happen.
Though you can’t control a truck driver’s actions, there are steps passenger-vehicle drivers can take to avoid accidents with large trucks.
Large truck accidents are complex events that often involve 2 or more vehicles. There are a number of elements that influence the likelihood of a large truck crash, including:
According to a study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), brake problems have been a factor in approximately 29% of fatal truck crashes and speeding was a factor in approximately 23% of fatal truck crashes.
Safe driving tips to avoid a truck accident
Large commercial trucks are a vital part of the Texas economy and they won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. As a result, Texas passenger-car drivers need to learn to share the road with trucks. Fortunately, there are 7 simple actions you can take to minimize your risk of a collision with a truck.
1. Stay out of “no zones” and “blind spots”
Large trucks have blind spots on all 4 sides. These “no zones” are located at the truck’s rear, front, and sides.
The general rule of thumb is: if you can’t see the truck driver in the truck’s side mirror, the driver can’t see you.
If you’re in a blind spot, slow down or move ahead to stay visible and be extra cautious when merging.
2. Pass safely
When passing a truck, first make sure you can see the truck driver in the truck’s side mirror. Once you’re sure you can see the truck driver, move into the left lane and accelerate. After passing the truck, wait until the entire truck appears in your rearview mirror before switching lanes.
Trucks take at least 2 times as long as regular cars to stop, so a truck might not have time to stop if you cut in front of it and brake suddenly.
3. Don’t tailgate
Leave at least 4 car lengths between your car and the truck at all times. Passenger vehicles are nearly 3 times more likely to rear-end large trucks than the other way around. Following a truck too closely obstructs your view of the road and also makes it difficult for the truck driver to see you.
What’s more, because trucks are high off the ground, your vehicle could slide (or get pushed) under a truck in a crash.
4. Anticipate wide turns
In addition to driving a safe distance behind trucks, it’s important to allow enough space between a trailer and the curb when truck drivers are preparing to turn. If you mistakenly rush into the space made when a truck “swings wide,” you might get sideswiped or lodged between the curb and the trailer.
5. Lower your brights
At night, be sure to dim your headlights when approaching a truck from the rear or head-on. Bright headlights can reflect off a truck’s large side mirrors and temporarily blind the driver. At 55 miles per hour, a blinded truck driver can travel more than ½ the length of a football field in just 2 seconds.
6. Be patient
Trucks need extra time to accelerate. What’s more, many trucks use speed-limiting technology. Honking, swerving, or otherwise driving aggressively can distract the truck driver and result in an accident.
7. Pay attention
Lastly, be sure to pay attention to your surroundings anytime you are behind the wheel, but especially when driving near trucks. Distractions like your cell phone, food items, and even other passengers can be enough to cause an accident.
If you’re involved in a truck accident despite your efforts, you may be able to receive financial compensation for your injuries. Use our free online lawyer directory to contact an experienced Texas attorney in your area.