Some of the most dangerous and deadliest motor vehicle accidents involve commercial trucks and smaller passenger vehicles.
Driving near an 18-wheeler or semi-truck in a passenger vehicle can be frightening. These vehicles are much heavier, longer and wider than passenger vehicles. An accident is more likely to be catastrophic to a passenger vehicle, with an increased risk of severe injury. Below, we discuss the risks of sharing the road with commercial trucks and what you can do to avoid an accident with these vehicles.
A licensed truck accident lawyer in Oshkosh is here to help if you have been injured in an accident with a commercial truck. You may be eligible to pursue significant compensation to help cover your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and more. The initial consultation is free with no obligation involved.
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What Are the Inherent Risks of Being Near an 18-Wheeler?
There are several inherent risks of being near an 18-wheeler or another larger commercial truck:
- Larger blind spots – 18-wheelers and other commercial trucks have larger blind spots located in the front, back and sides. Even the most cautious truck drivers on the road may fail to see you if your vehicle is traveling within the truck’s blind spots.
- Cargo may shift during transit – A shifting load in transit may damage the cargo and also result in uneven weight distribution, making a commercial truck unsafe. Improperly secured cargo may spill onto the road, causing drivers to steer away from the spill to avoid an accident.
- Lack of underride guards – Federal regulations require commercial trucks to have underride protection. However, not all vehicles have underride guards. Without this protection in an accident, a passenger vehicle may slide underneath the truck, increasing the risk of fatal injuries.
- Trucks can roll over – Commercial trucks have a different center of gravity than passenger vehicles. 18-wheelers are inherently dangerous since they are more likely to roll over as they pass through a curve in the road or as they navigate an on-ramp or an off-ramp.
- Trucks can jackknife – When a commercial truck jackknifes, the cab loses control of the trailer, causing it to swing out at a 90-degree angle. Jackknifing trucks often cause serious accidents.
- Tire blowouts – 18-wheelers and other larger trucks are more likely to experience a tire blowout due to the long distances truck drivers must travel in combination with heavier truck loads.
- Driver error due to negligence – A negligent truck driver can put your safety and the safety of others sharing the road at risk. Distracting activities are common and can result in driving errors. Trucks drivers may even speed or operate their vehicles while fatigued to meet deadlines.
How Can You Share the Road Safely with an 18-Wheeler?
It is important for drivers to be proactive and take the necessary precautions to stay safe on the road.
Staying Out of Blind Spots
If you are in an 18-wheeler’s blind spots or “No-Zones,” the truck driver cannot see you. These blind spots restrict the truck driver’s ability to take action to avoid an accident, especially if he or she is attempting to change lanes or make a turn. It is best to stay out of a truck driver’s blind spots altogether. If you cannot see the truck driver in their side mirror, then the truck driver will probably not be able to see you either.
Keeping a Safe Distance
Commercial trucks require more stopping distance than passenger vehicles. This distance increases when there are adverse road conditions when the roads become slippery and wet. Following an 18-wheeler too closely does not allow you to safely slow down or come to a complete stop. If cargo falls out of the truck or there is a tire blowout, your vehicle may get hit, causing a crash.
Being Careful When Passing or Merging
When passing an 18-wheeler or merging into traffic near these vehicles, be sure to leave enough space in front of you to move past the truck safely. Do not pass commercial trucks on downgrades when they pick up speed. Be sure you can see the truck in your rearview mirror before getting in front of the truck.
Engaging in any type of distracting behavior, such as talking on the cellphone, texting or eating and drinking behind the wheel can be dangerous. You should always remain alert and cautious when driving behind, next to or near an 18-wheeler. Otherwise, you may cause an accident.
Not Cutting Off a Commercial Truck
Be sure to give commercial trucks plenty of room and do not cut too close in front of them. Even in ideal conditions, trucks weigh substantially more than passenger vehicles, so it takes more time and distance to slow down or come to a full stop. If you cut off a truck, you may get hit from behind and lose control of your vehicle. Worse, your vehicle may spin out and hit other vehicles in front of you or next to you.
Being Prepared for Wide Turns
18-wheelers also need plenty of room to make wide turns. If you are in a lane next to a commercial truck, it is best to slow down or change lanes if possible to give the truck the room it needs. Do not try to nudge past an 18-wheeler when it is turning to avoid getting pinned between the trailer and the curb.
Accidents frequently occur when drivers are impatient or fail to wait to make sure it is safe to make a maneuver. It is important to give truck drivers more time to see you on the road and react to you.
Avoiding Driving Drowsy or Impaired
If you are feeling tired or exhausted, you should pull over to the side of the road. Drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Fatigue and alcohol consumption can cause slower reaction times and an inability to stay focused on the road. This could prove fatal in an accident with an 18-wheeler.
Reach Out to Our Firm Today for Trusted Legal Help
At Sigman Janssen, we have the resources and experience to help you pursue the compensation you need after being injured or losing a loved one in a truck-related accident. We know the common tactics trucking companies and their insurance companies may use to avoid responsibility in these cases.
Our firm has recovered millions on behalf of our clients, including victims of truck accidents. Reach out today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about your rights and available legal options. There are zero upfront fees for our services. We only get paid if we help you obtain compensation.
Call (920) 260-4528 for a Free Case Review Today.