Whether you are a newbie driver or a seasoned veteran, we all share the same fear: getting involved in a car crash or Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA). An MVA is a traumatic experience for both the driver and the passengers, and accidents between a truck and an undersized vehicle can be especially dangerous.

Due to its restricted maneuverability, truck drivers must take extra caution when driving, as an accident could result in significant consequences ranging from vehicle and road damage to severe injuries to drivers and passengers, and even death. Smaller vehicle drivers, on the other hand, should also drive cautiously because they are more likely to suffer serious physical injuries and damage.

When driving near large trucks, keep the following tips in mind to keep yourself and others safe.

How to safely share the road with trucks

You might be wondering what makes driving around huge trucks or tractor trailers so different. On the road, heavy truck drivers encounter a number of challenges, including:

  • Reduced field of vision: Truck drivers have many blind spots on both sides, in front, and behind their trucks, resulting in a reduced field of vision.
  • Longer stopping time: Larger trucks have a longer stopping distance due to their size and weight. Consider the following scenario: Large vehicles traveling at 65 miles per hour will need up to 200 yards — the length of two football fields — to come to a complete stop.
  • Slower reactions: Most vehicles are capable of merging onto a road more quickly. Due to their size, large trucks are unable to do so.
  • Wind vulnerability: Tractor-trailers have a large surface area, which makes controlling them difficult when the wind kicks up.
  • Wide turns: Big vehicles, especially right turns, require a lot of space to turn.

What can you do about it?

  • Keep your eyes open for blind spots:  Many truck accidents occur as a result of the trucker failing to see a car in the adjacent lane. Blind spots exist in the front, back, and sides of large vehicles and buses. Avoid driving in a blind spot by speeding up or slowing down to keep visible and merging near a vehicle or bus with prudence.
  • Pass with caution: Before passing, double-check that you can see the driver in the rearview mirror. Make a clear signal and speed to safely and quickly pass the truck or bus.
  • Keep your distance: Cutting in front of a bus or truck is extremely risky since huge vehicles require more time to stop.
  • Keep your distance: Following behind a truck or bus is always risky, but it’s especially so when the driver can’t see you behind them and you can’t see what’s going on in front of the truck due to its size.
  • Wide turns should be expected: Trucks and buses need plenty of room to turn; never try to pass or squeeze between the vehicle and the sidewalk.
  • Patience is required: As previously said, it is critical to wait patiently for a truck to turn because they require additional space to do so.
  • Do not drive if you are tired or if you are under the influence of drugs.

What is the rule of thumb for driving next to a large truck?

One golden rule you should never forget is: If you can’t see the driver in the truck’s side mirror, assume they can’t see you either. Staying in those blind zones prevents the trucker from taking evasive action to avoid a potentially disastrous situation. A truck’s blind spots are called No Zones.

Here are some ways of dealing with it:

  • Before attempting to pass a truck, pull back a few car lengths.
  • Get by the trailer as swiftly as possible; if at all possible, avoid coasting alongside them.
  • Before merging back into your lane, leave a couple extra car lengths.

You’ll have a better chance of arriving at your destination safely if you stay out of the No Zones near large trucks and buses.

What are the 3 mistakes to avoid when driving around large trucks?

  • Cutting off a truck to reach an exit or turn: This takes away the truck driver’s safety net. Slow down for a while and exit behind the truck. It’ll only take a few seconds longer.
  • Lingering alongside a truck when passing: Always pass a truck on the left side and completely. If you linger when passing a truck, the truck driver will be unable to take evasive action if an object appears in the road ahead.
  • Taking the size and speed of an approaching truck for granted: A truck may look to be driving at a slower speed than it actually is due to its size. At intersections, a large number of car-truck collisions occur because the vehicle driver is unaware of how close the truck is or how quickly it is approaching.

What is “braking distance” in driving?

The distance an automobile travels after the driver hits the brakes until it comes to a complete stop is known as braking distance.

Travel speed is the most critical component in calculating a truck’s stopping distance. In its most basic form, the bigger the stopping distance, the faster the truck is traveling.

The distance traveled by the vehicle between the time the driver’s eyes detect the hazard and the time the brain recognizes it is known as perception distance. An aware driver has a perceptual time of around 3/4 of a second. A vehicle traveling at 55 mph will travel 19 meters in 3/4 of a second.

The braking distance is the distance it takes to come to a complete stop after using the brakes. A big truck may come to a complete stop at roughly 185 meters at 55 mph on dry pavement with adequate brakes.

Stopping at 55 mph will take approximately 7 seconds, and the truck will have moved approximately 185 meters.

When a driver doubles their speed, they will require approximately four times the stopping distance. As a result, you should also consider that if the truck crashes, it will have four times the destructive power.

What to do if you’re involved in a car accident with a truck?

Call 911: After a collision caused by a heavy vehicle, the first thing you should do is phone 911 for assistance.

Collect evidence at the accident scene: Take photos of the damage to both vehicles, tire skid marks, the driver’s license plate, and other important details at the accident scene to collect evidence. 

Get medical help: Obtaining medical assistance as soon as possible after a vehicle accident is critical. Truck collisions regularly result in serious injuries, including injuries that are not immediately apparent.  Internal injuries, a traumatic brain injury, or other ailments that don’t exhibit symptoms right away but are nevertheless serious can happen.

Having a medical report that shows your injuries are directly related to your accident is also vital for proving that they occurred as a result of the collision rather than a separate incident.

Talk to a truck accident attorney: Before providing a statement or signing any documentation from the trucking company’s insurance provider, you should consult with an attorney. A lawyer can handle the correspondence on your behalf and help you avoid making important mistakes that could jeopardize your case. Your attorney will create a demand letter to deliver to each implicated insurance company after investigating your claim and identifying each party who may be liable.

File an insurance claim: It is a good idea to seek legal advice from an experienced truck accident attorney. Having the assistance of an attorney while filing a claim could make all the difference in the result of your case.

Getting legal assistance after a truck accident could mean the difference between receiving reimbursement for your damages and not. If you have been seriously injured in a vehicle accident caused by someone else’s negligence, contact a New York truck accident lawyer at Greenberg & Stein at 212-681-2535.


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