How to Protect Yourself from Being in a Truck Accident

By:
Stephen M. Garcia
Attorney-at-Law
Garcia & Artigliere

How many times have you been crowded out of your traffic lane by an 18-wheeler? We’ve all experienced that moment when an 18-wheel truck swings into our lane and we’re certain it’s going to hit us, or the moment when a big truck blares its horn telling you to get out of the way.

Few things are quite as frightening or stress-inducing as moments like these, but successfully avoiding an accident with a large truck can be a matter of life or death.

Each year, big rigs account for nearly 10 percent of all traffic accidents. And with large trucks accounting for a disproportionate percentage of all traffic accident fatalities, they pose one of the most mammoth and ever present dangers on the road.

Because current estimates suggest that most American drivers have a near motor vehicle accident 1 to 3 times a month and will be involved in a collision of some type on the average of every 5 to 8 years, it is even more important to know how to protect yourself from accidents with a big truck.

There are several things you can do to help protect yourself from being in a deadly truck accident.

First off, it’s always important to be alert when driving near a large truck. Many big rigs sway back and forth between lanes and can hit drivers sitting next to them.

Staying further away from the truck, whether that means in a lane further away or just giving the truck plenty of space, can be critical in an emergency situation and gives you the best chance of being able to get out of the semi-truck’s way.

Trucks are more prone to solo vehicle accidents, like jackknifing. Giving them as much room as possible could ensure you are not caught in a big rig accident.

Big rigs of all types require far greater stopping distances than regular motor vehicles do. Some 18-wheelers need as much space as a football field to come to a halt.

Giving a big rig plenty of space when it is turning helps to prevent deadly accidents. Because many large trucks make excessively wide turns both ways, it is wise to wait until they have finished the entire turn before entering the intersection to complete your own turn.

This is not about “legal” turns but about protecting you and your passengers from being slammed into by a turning big rig.

Ensure you are visible to the truck driver. With massive blind spots and a higher cab, big rig drivers can’t always see motorists who are next to or behind them. This can lead to a truck accident if the truck driver decides to change lanes or has to make an emergency maneuver.

A good rule of thumb is to assume that if you can’t see the driver in their mirror, they can’t see you. By avoiding the “no-zone” on a trucker’s right side, and by driving with your lights on in low light or hazardous conditions, you also can help to make yourself more visible.

Make sure you provide truckers with plenty of warning about what you are going to do. Whether you are going to merge, turn, or slow down, giving a truck driver more time to respond allows them to respond to you.

Since bigger trucks tend to drive slower and are harder to stop because of their huge cargo weights, turning on your turn signal early and even tapping your brakes lightly before you begin to slow down, can alert the truck driver to your next move. This could save your life because if you are hit by a truck – regardless of what model car you drive – you will almost certainly “lose.”

If you or a loved one has been involved in a big rig accident or truck crash, contact Garcia & Artigliere for a free, no-obligation consultation.