All automobile accidents are scary and many lead to significant injuries and property damage. But tractor trailer crashes may be the most dangerous of all.
Because semi tractor-trailer trucks are much heavier and larger than typical passenger vehicles on Alabama roadways, collisions with these vehicles typically leave the smaller autos in bad shape. 18 wheelers have limited maneuverability due to their size and weight, which makes them especially dangerous. The Insurance Information Institute for Highway Safety reports 3,602 fatalities in 2013 that involved large trucks so it is important to understand how to navigate roadways while traveling near them.
First, understand what the “No-Zone” for trucks is. This area surrounding large vehicles represent areas where crashes are most likely to occur due to specific hazards. The four No-Zone areas are:
Cutting in front of a tractor trailer causes the driver to slam on their brakes, and unfortunately they do not always have enough time to stop. Being rear-ended by a big rig can cause devastating damage to the vehicle in front. Remember that large trucks require almost double the time and space to stop that your car does. If you don’t see the entire front of the tractor trailer in your rear-view mirror, it is too soon to pull in front.
Riding too closely (or tailgating) to an 18 wheeler is dangerous not only because you may not have enough time or space to stop if they apply their brakes, but because truck drivers have a blind spot there as well. If you cannot see the truck’s side mirrors, the driver likely cannot see your vehicle. This also applies in parking lots and in areas where trucks may be moving in reverse. Underride crashes happen quite often when drivers follow too closely to a commercial vehicle, which many times leads to devastating injuries.
Just like the blind spots that exist for typical passenger vehicles, 18-wheelers have side blind-spots as well. Theirs are much larger than your vehicle’s, though. If you cannot see the truck driver’s face in the side mirrors, it is probable that the driver cannot see your vehicle. Being stuck beside a truck as they change lanes or swerve is especially terrifying because there is nowhere to escape to.
Wide Right Turns
When tractor trailer drivers need to turn right, they oftentimes swing especially wide to the left as to avoid not striking the curb or other objects. Sometimes passenger vehicle drivers are tempted to squeeze between the truck and the curb, but this is extremely dangerous. The truck driver more than likely cannot see your vehicle in this position, so they do not know to stop the turn.