Truck accidents account for 9 of every 13 accidents last year, hence, it’s becoming increasingly important to drive safely around semi-trucks. Central to understanding defensive driving is a solid appreciation of the dangers and risks these tractor-trailers represent.
Defensive Driving Tips
Defensive driving is always a function of understanding the limitations of your surroundings and other drivers.
- Pay close attention and be wary of trucks. The physics of a tractor-trailer is very different from your average road car, in almost all material points. They cannot brake quickly and are extremely dangerous when tailgating. What you can do is keep a relatively safe distance. If you must overtake a truck, do it quickly and mind your clearance as you shift lanes out front. Never drive beside it longer than is absolutely necessary.
- Be very visible and account for the truck’s blind spots. Trucks have notoriously low visibility behind them, beside them and in some cases, immediately in front of them. When they make turn signals, pay attention and don’t count on them hearing your horn or seeing your lights. Always ease up on the throttle and let them pass.
- Be very careful especially in poor driving conditions. If your average family car or SUV is hampered by poor conditions such as rain, sleet or snow, this has an exponential effect on a truck. Always factor this in and err on the side of caution. This may be particularly useful when there is a slope, poor incline or a narrowing section or merging traffic on the road ahead.
- In cases of emergencies, always remove your car from the road. If you need to make an emergency stop for a flat tire or engine trouble, pull off the road completely. Remember that truck drivers often suffer from distracted driving and a sudden stop may cause them to unwittingly rear-end your car. Do all your repairs on the shoulder, keep your hazard lights on and put up your early warning devices. If this is impossible and you are waiting for roadside assistance, step away from your car and retreat to a safe distance away from the passing traffic.
- Avoid road rage. Never be aggressive or take out your anger against a tractor-trailer. Because of the very nature of their profession, truck drivers have a bad tendency to tailgate or drive aggressively. Do not give in to your instincts to retaliate with sudden stops or cutting them off their driving lines. Remember that your car’s safety has been rated and tested on other vehicles in the same weight class or category and never against tractor-trailers. Mind your temper and if you’re dangerously close to losing it, let the truck driver pass or head out to the nearest exit. Get his truck’s details and file a report with the authorities. Aggressive truck drivers are a constant threat on the road and you can do your share of clearing them off.
- Learn to expect the unexpected. Defensive driving instructors anchor a lot of their practices on the unpredictability of other drivers. The least you can do when you meet bad drivers is to avoid them completely, whether they’re behind a moving van or an 18-wheeler. As is often the case, bad truck drivers (and perhaps poor maintenance as well) can cause tire blowouts. Keeping a sensible distance away from them could mean the difference between life and death for you and your family.
When Defensive Driving Fails
As tractor-trailer accidents continue to claim the lives of thousands of people each year, defensive driving can only do so much. But if you or someone you know has been injured by these overtly aggressive truck drivers, they can be held accountable. Since 1991, the truck accident lawyers at the Zevan and Davidson Law Firm have been standing up for the rights of accident victims in St. Louis, Missouri and Illinois.
Call us today at (314) 588-7200 or fill out our online contact form for a free and private consultation.