Chances are if you’ve driven through Texas or New Mexico, you know that semi-trailers heavily utilize roadways here. These trucks are one of the most efficient ways to ship goods and merchandise throughout the country. Consequently, any time you get behind the wheel and take to the road, you are likely to encounter some of these huge commercial vehicles. Because they are so massive, driving near or alongside a semi-trailer can be quite intimidating to say the least.
Although truck drivers are required to undergo hours of training and obtain special licenses, they are definitely not exempt from making mistakes. You should also keep in mind that truck drivers are usually required to drive for long periods of time, so driver fatigue can also be a problem. Getting into an accident with a huge semi-trailer usually does not end well for those in passenger vehicles. Here are things you should watch out for to stay safe when driving near semi-trailers.
Tailgating a semi-trailer is very dangerous. These trucks can kick up large debris, and if you’re following too closely, debris could crack or go through your windshield. Also, if you are tailgating a semi-trailer, you won’t have enough room to stop in the event of an emergency, which could result in your vehicle sliding under the trailer. Semi-trailers have a rear blind spot, so if you’re tailgating, the driver won’t be able to see you.
Give them plenty of room
Semi-trailers are very long, so they require more space to turn. If you see a truck signaling for a turn, never try to pass them or cut them off. Since these trucks are so heavy and need more space to stop, truck drivers will often leave a lot of room between their truck and the vehicle they are following. Never use this gap to change lanes or jump in front of a truck. If traffic were to come to a complete stop, the truck could plow right through your vehicle.
Heed the right-of-way
If you’re in a scenario where you need to choose to go first or let a semi-trailer go instead, always yield to them and give them the right-of-way. It’s safer to let the truck go before you rather than trying to get in front of it. Also, keep in mind that truck drivers often communicate using headlights. If a truck driver flashes the lights once, he or she is telling you it is ok to merge in front of them. However, high beams or several flashes indicate not to merge in front of them.
You should always drive defensively near semi-trailers and just use common sense. Give trucks enough room, avoid sudden movements, and avoid unnecessary lane changes, sudden stops or turns. It’s easy to see why truck driving can be a grueling profession, so when you are driving near a truck driver who fails to prioritize safety, serious or fatal accidents can happen. If you are involved in a truck accident caused by negligence, you may be able to pursue legal recourse.