As the economy hums along, we are sharing the roads with more trucks than ever before.
Unfortunately, many people do not exercise the extreme caution required when driving around 18-wheelers, container trucks and buses. And if there is an accident, due to their sheer size and weight, they can crush a passenger vehicle, seriously injuring or killing the occupants.
Trucks have tremendous blind spots, take longer to brake and often require multiple lanes to make turns. If you are also driving in hazardous conditions like icy, snowy or wet roads, the chances of an accident grow.
Another vehicle in or encroaching into the truck's lane was the critical pre-crash event for 73% of fatal large-truck crashes in the U.S. last year, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to avoid having an incident while sharing the road with trucks and buses. Here are five tips:
1. Stay out of blind spots - You're small and those trucks are giants. Even though the drivers are sitting high above you, that size comes with huge blind spots for the truck drivers. Here is a good rule of thumb if you must drive in the lane next to a truck: If you can't see the driver through their window or in their sideview mirror, the chances are good that they cannot see you either.
It's better if you don't drive in their blind spot at all, so strategically position your vehicle so that you stay behind or ahead of the truck, if possible. Be careful when merging into a lane next to a truck.
2. Pass with care - As mentioned above, make sure you see the driver in their mirror before passing. Start signaling early and then move into the left lane and accelerate so you can as quickly as safely possible pass them and get out of their blind spot.
When you merge back into the same lane as the truck, make sure you do so only when the truck is visible in your rearview mirror.
Don't pass going downhill or while in the right lane.
3. Give a wide berth - When driving near trucks, be sure to give them a wide berth. Don't tailgate, or linger too long alongside a truck and make slow predictable movements. Do not cut off a commercial truck or bus. They need more time to brake and slow down than passenger vehicles and they are heavy, so if they crash into you the results can be catastrophic.
4. Don't tailgate - If the truck or bus in front of you must suddenly stop and you rear-end the vehicle, the chances of severe injury or death are extremely high. Also, don't stop too close behind a truck at a light either. If someone rear-ends you or the truck rolls backwards, there could be serious consequences.
5. Watch for wide turns - Trucks need extra space to make turns, and they will often start a turn from the second lane to the right in order to navigate the corner. If you see a truck with its turn signal on, don't try to squeeze in between the inner lane and the vehicle. Keep your distance.