Commercial trucks help keep America's economy rolling along, but they can also make navigating the highways, roads and streets tricky at times. It can be difficult for individuals who drive their cars among the big rigs when they are trying to stay safe and keep themselves from getting tangled up in an accident. However, you can protect yourself from being involved in an accident with a truck by being alert and knowing how to drive defensively. Below are three critical tactics to use on the road when you are around big trucks:
Keep truck mirrors in sight
One of the most important tactics when driving near a big truck is to keep their mirrors in view. A truck's mirrors are its "eyes" to the road, and if you can't see those mirrors, you can know the driver doesn't see you either. That means you are more likely to be involved in a collision if the driver inadvertently steers into your path when you are invisible to them.
Don't travel alongside a truck
Another critical safety practice when driving near commercial trucks is to avoid traveling alongside them. Driving in a parallel lane opposite a big truck will needlessly expose you to several potential hazards, including blowouts and swerves. A typical truck tire can explode with devastating force in a blowout, and being struck with tire fragments can cause damage to your vehicle or make you have an accident. In addition, should a truck swerve unexpectedly into your lane, you don't want to be there to receive the blow. If you need to pass a truck, do so quickly and make sure you allow plenty of room between yourself and the truck.
Avoid following too closely
A dangerous habit is tailgating, since following too closely behind a large truck can lead to tragic consequences. Several possible dangers are lurking when you tailgate a commercial truck:
- Debris thrown at your windshield—Even though most trucks have mudflaps, they still can propel a rock or other objects at your windshield at high speed.
- Disturbance in air currents—A tractor-trailer can create strong turbulence in its immediate vicinity, and these disturbances are powerful enough to make an inattentive driver lose control.
- Rear-end collision—By not following a safe distance, you may not be able to stop in time should the truck be forced to make an emergency stop. Your vehicle is susceptible to running underneath a trailer in such an accident, which can lead to horrific injuries for you.
As a general rule, follow at least two seconds behind any vehicle, especially a large truck, but also keep in mind that standard is a minimum. In some cases, such as when roads are wet or ice-covered, a three, four or even five second following distance may be the safest course of action.