If you’re traveling for work during the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re likely forgoing air travel in favor of road trips.
While many of us used to commute daily to work, if you haven’t in awhile you might need a refresher on how to travel around semi trucks safely.
They are a fact of life on the road, but many people aren’t aware that special precautions should be taken to stay safe around semis.
How to Safely Travel Around Semi Trucks
When you approach a semi truck in town or on the highway or interstate, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind.
Whether you’re going to work or you’re on a socially distanced road trip, the same rules apply while you’re around any semi truck.
1. Stay out of blind spots
One of the biggest things to remember when you approach a semi truck is to watch out for blind spots.
In a passenger car, there are only a few, small blind spots that the driver needs to worry about. However, we all know how annoying it is when another driver won’t get out of our blind spot.
Think about how the truck driver feels when you stay in their blind spots. If you can’t see the truck mirrors, they cannot see you either.
Some of the most common blind spots around a semi truck are 30ft. directly behind the truck, 20ft. in front of it, and on the front left and right sides.
See the diagram from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration below for more information on where you’ll be out of a truck driver’s blind spot.
2. Keep a safe distance
Another important rule is to keep a safe following distance and leave extra space around semi trucks.
Semi trucks are loaded down with heavy supplies and have a longer stopping distance.
Imagine that you pull directly in front of a semi after passing and leave no space. The driver would have to slam on the brakes, and they may still hit you because they are not able to stop as quickly as a passenger car.
Additionally, think about if the semi in front of you suddenly stopped and you were following closely. Your car may slide under the back of the semi and be crushed.
This becomes especially important in winter weather conditions when we should all be more careful when driving.
A good following distance for trucks is about 4 seconds behind them.
3. Leave room for wide turns
Lastly, remember that semis make very wide turns to make sure that their trailer will clear.
A semi could start a turn from the middle lane or they might just need extra turning room.
Do not try to turn right around a semi because they could hit you.
If you are in a car next to where you know a semi will be turning, make sure to leave room for the semi to make the turn and don’t crowd the intersection.
How to Pass a Semi Truck
Now that you’ve learned how to safely drive while in the vicinity of a semi truck, it’s time to learn how to pass one!
Did you know 75 percent of commercial vehicle accidents are caused by drivers in passenger cars?
Passing a semi doesn’t have to be difficult, but it can be dangerous for you and the truck driver if you don’t know how to do it safely.
1. Watch for on-ramps
Before you consider passing a semi truck, look to your right.
Is there an upcoming on-ramp?
If so, the semi will likely need to slow down or get over into the left lane to let the other drivers onto the road.
Avoid passing when there is an upcoming on-ramp because you never know if there will be heavy traffic in that area that necessitates that semi getting over.
2. Don’t pass downhill
Next, never pass downhill on the interstate or uphill in the case of a two-lane highway.
On the interstate, never pass downhill because the weight of the semi will cause it to move faster on descent making it much harder to pass.
On a two-lane highway, never pass uphill because you cannot see an oncoming car coming up over the opposite side of the hill and could be in a head-on collision.
This goes for passing trucks, cars, or any other vehicle.
3. Pass on the left and don’t stay in the blind spot
Once you have decided to pass a semi, use your turn signal to move into the left lane.
As with passing any vehicle, never pass on the right.
Not only is it illegal in many states, with semi trucks it can be particularly dangerous.
One of the biggest blind spots on the semi is the right side. Always pass on the left, and make sure that you can quickly pass the semi to stay out of the smaller blind spot on that side.
4. Check your rearview mirror
When you have successfully passed the semi truck, check your rearview mirror before moving back into the right lane.
Make sure that you can see the truck in your rearview mirror, not your side mirror.
This will assure that you can safely move back into the right lane.
What to Do If You Are Involved in an Accident
Even if you take every precaution, it’s unfortunately still possible to get in an accident when you travel around semi trucks.
A semi truck accident could cause serious injuries.
Always get immediate medical help after a semi accident, even if you don’t feel like you are hurt. Some injuries can show up hours or days later.
You will also need to exchange information with the truck driver, try to take photos of the accident on your phone for evidence if possible, and contact a personal injury lawyer to help with the complex legal battle you might be about to face.
Contact VanDerGinst Law to After a Truck Accident
Most of the time it’s safe to travel around semi trucks, but people are involved in semi truck accidents every day.
If you’ve been involved in a truck accident, it might be time to call VanDerGinst Law.
Our team of experienced attorneys is ready to help.
We’ll take care of the legal side while you work on recovering from your injuries.
There’s no fee unless you win, and we’ve handled thousands of cases over the years that give us the expertise to handle anything thrown our way.
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