Most sources say that passenger vehicles are responsible for around 80% of two-vehicle truck collisions. That could be because most people don’t know how to drive safely around large trucks and semis. To help drivers better maneuver on the road, we’ve put together this guide explaining how to drive safely around trucks.
Understanding The No-Zone
The keystone to truck safety is understanding the “No-Zone.” The No-Zone is a huge blind spot around large trucks and tractor-trailers. This isn’t an area of low visibility; truck drivers cannot see anything that enters this space.
The problem with the no-zone is that it’s not a set radius around the truck and most drivers don’t realize they’re in the no-zone. You might see signs on the back of a truck that read ‘If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you.” While that’s a good starting place, it doesn’t fully express the limitations of the No-Zone.
See our graphic below to get a better idea of the no-zone. Notice that the truck driver cannot see the two lanes on their right side, which is partially why you should never try to pass a truck on the right.
Once you understand the no-zone, you can see how passing a truck presents certain challenges. A truck can’t see you from every direction, nor can they see you if you pull out from directly behind them.
To safely pass a large truck, put on your turn signal, and slow down. Provide three car lengths of space before you go into the passing lane. This will help them see you from the time you pull out until the time you enter their no-zone.
Once you pass the truck, don’t merge back into their lane right away. A huge number of two-vehicle truck crashes occur when the driver of a passenger vehicle merges in front of a large truck. Because of the no-zone, a truck driver may not even see a driver who merges in front of them.
Trucks are huge and heavy; they can’t slow down as quickly as a passenger vehicle. If a passenger vehicle pulls out in front of them, they are faced with hitting the car or slamming the brakes and potentially causing a multi-lane jackknife crash.
Once you pass a truck, keep going until you can see the truck’s trailer in your rearview mirror. This is the safest way to ensure that the truck sees you and that they have enough space to slow down.
One of the dangers of following too closely is that the truck driver can’t see you when they need to get into your lane. If you’re attempting to pass a truck and you see the turn indicator on their trailer, you are in danger.
In this situation, some drivers will attempt to “punish” the truck driver by cutting them off or boxing them in. Remember, trucks are typically 10x heavier and 100x more powerful than a family sedan. If the truck driver is faced with causing a jackknife crash or merging into the car driving aggressively, they’re not left with much of a choice.
It may be frustrating, but if you see that side indicator, you need to slow down and let the truck get in front of you. Usually, truck drivers only change lanes when they don’t have a choice or when they’d lose too much momentum from following another truck.
Give a Wide Berth
Large trucks, especially semi-trucks, make wide turns. They need lots of extra space to avoid causing an accident.
If you ever find yourself in a double turning lane next to a truck, don’t stop at the white line. Instead, hang back and give them some space. You need to stay clear of the front of their trailer. If the truck driver in this position turns too narrowly or too wide, it could mean disaster for the passenger vehicle and everyone else at the intersection. It may not seem fair, but it’s always better to give the truck the space they need to maneuver safely.
If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries or even wrongful death in a trucking accident, you might have a case. If you’d like to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Clarksville personal injury lawyer from Pete Olson Injury Attorneys, please send us an email or call (931) 286-7773.