Learn How To Drive Safely Around 18-Wheelers

Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP Aug. 20, 2014

Our roads and highways carry many types of vehicles, ranging from motorcycles and small passenger cars to large trucks and tractor trailers carrying heavy cargo. Drivers of commercial vehicles must obey safety laws just as any other driver; however, other drivers should not rely on truck drivers for their own safety. Accident attorneys in Pearland, TX report that passenger vehicles can often avoid many highway accidents with safe driving practices around trucks, especially when passing.

Big Truck Basic Driving Facts

Traffic laws exist for every driver on the roads and highways. To stay safe on the road, passenger vehicle drivers should use common sense when driving near tractor-trailers and other big trucks. Most drivers of smaller vehicles can react faster and easier than drivers in big rigs. The following are some facts to keep in mind when driving on the highway:

  • Stopping Distance – It takes a greater distance for a vehicle traveling at a higher speed to stop. Furthermore, additional vehicle weight increases the required stopping distance. A fully loaded tractor trailer weighing up to 80,000 pounds and traveling at regular highway speeds requires at least 500 feet to stop.1

  • Blind Spots – According to attorneys who help those injured in truck accidents, it is important for drivers to recognize and avoid a big rig’s blind spots. Such spots may happen within 25 feet directly behind and 10 feet in front of the 18-wheeler. This includes the area diagonally back from the passenger side front to the rear; the right two traveling lanes and diagonally back from the driver side front; and a few feet along the side of the trailer.1 Traveling anywhere within these areas can prevent a big rig driver from seeing another vehicle.

Big Truck Safe Driving Techniques

Drivers of passenger vehicles should be observant and proceed around big rigs using the following cautionary measures:

  • Pass Confidently and Carefully – Know where big truck blind spots are located and avoid such areas if possible. Be sure there is enough room and drive through blind spots as quickly as possible when passing an 18-wheeler.

  • Avoid Tailgating – Following too closely behind a tractor trailer is especially dangerous since they are very large, obstruct the following driver’s view, and require greater stopping distance. The driver of an 18-wheeler may not be able to see a vehicle following too close. As such, a good rule of thumb to help determine a safe following distance is the ability to see the commercial truck’s side-view mirrors.

  • Drive Alert – Not Aggressively – Drivers maneuvering around big trucks should avoid erratic behavior, including aggressive driving, passing quickly, or cutting in front of a big rig. Drivers should allow plenty of room, use signals, and gradually increase speed when passing a truck. Due to the above noted blind spots, passenger car drivers should always be sure that a truck driver can see them.

Highway safety is an important concern for anyone traveling on our country’s roadway system. It is essential for passenger vehicle drivers to share the highway with 18-wheelers and remain alert of these large trucks. The dedicated attorneys who help their clients recover from accidents suggest the best way to avoid an accident is to prevent it with safe and responsible driving habits.

1 Texas Department of Transportation – Share The Road, 2014