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How You Can Prevent an 18-Wheeler Accident

Large semi truck hauling freight on the open highway in the western USA under an evening sky.

Each year, more than 115,000 Americans are seriously injured due to highway truck accidents. Many of these are preventable when everyone on the road exercises defensive driving techniques and has a better understanding of how why truck accidents occur. With that in mind, here are three ways you can prevent an 18-wheeler accident next time you’re on the highway.

Identify the No-Zone

Previously, we identified an 18-wheeler’s blind spots, also called its “no-zone.” This is the area around a truck where the driver has zero visibility, meaning they cannot see anything that is following too closely or is directly under their cab.

Unfortunately, many drivers are unaware of the no-zone or are mislead by the signs on the back of a truck that state, “if you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you.” While this advice is well-meaning, the passenger-side mirrors are convex, like a bubble, meaning they show the driver a distorted reflection. This is also why passenger-side mirrors state “objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.”

Next time you’re approaching a truck, try to determine the exact moment the driver can see you in their mirrors. Remember, if you can see someone’s reflection in a mirror, they can see you. Remembering this simple trick will help you identify when you’re in a truck driver’s no-zone and when they can see you.

Good Passing Technique

When a driver is unaware of a truck’s no-zone, they may also struggle to exercise safe passing and merging techniques. This, combined with the limitations of a truck’s blind spots, are two of the biggest contributing factors in highway 18-wheeler crashes.

Next time you’re approaching a truck, make sure you have at least three car lengths of space (30ft) before moving into the passing lane. Once there, quickly move ahead of the truck. Lingering in the passing lane increases the chances of the truck driver forgetting about you or needing to change lanes themselves.

When you’ve passed the truck completely, fight the urge to get back into the travel lane too soon. A great number of truck accidents are caused when a car in the no-zone merges in front of a truck and then hits the brakes. When this happens, the truck driver may be unable to see the brake lights and may not know the smaller vehicle is in danger.

A good rule of thumb is to merge back into your lane only when you can see the entire truck in your rearview mirror. This will ensure the truck driver has time to see you and that they are prepared to slow down if they see your brake lights.

Let Them Over!

When a truck puts their turn signal on, remember your defensive driving and let them over. It may be frustrating to have a truck in front of you, but if they’re changing lanes, it may be because the driver feels they have no choice.

If you’re alongside a truck and you see their trailer’s turn indicators turn on, it’s usually best to slow down and let the truck pass you. If you speed ahead, you may enter the blind spot directly under the driver’s window, meaning the truck driver may think it’s safe to change lanes. One way or another, once an 18-wheeler crosses the dotted line, they’re not going to stop.

What you should never do is attempt to “punish” the truck driver by refusing to let them pass. This is dangerous for everyone on the road. It’s a distraction to the truck driver who needs to slow down and keep an eye on your vehicle, and it’s dangerous to everyone around the truck because it increases the risk that the truck driver will get into a crash. When that happens, the consequences could be severe or even fatal.

If you or someone you love suffered severe injuries in an 18-wheeler crash, you might have a case. If you’d like to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Amarillo 18-wheeler accident attorney from Wood Law Firm LLP, please send us an email or call (806) 304-0447.