It’s a common scene on Charlotte highways: A truck driver who does not seem to be aware of blind spots and cuts off smaller passenger cars, or tractor-trailer drivers who insist on merging into the left lane to pass other vehicles. Although sharing the road with transport drivers can be frustrating, many passenger car drivers simply do not have the experience to know what it is like to drive a large truck on the highway, particularly for long periods.
In order to avoid a severe trucking accident, it is extremely important for passenger car drivers to learn what to do and what not to do when passing trucks on the road.
How Large Trucks Differ from Smaller Vehicles
How can you safely pass a semi-truck on the highway? According to insurance company Nationwide, in order to avoid being involved in a dangerous truck accident, it is important for passenger car drivers to understand the ways in which tractor-trailers differ from smaller vehicles. For example:
- Trucks have a bigger blind spot than smaller passenger vehicles.
- Semi-trucks need to have more space on roads to maneuver properly.
- Tractor-trailers need more time and greater distances than passenger cars or passenger trucks to come to a stop.
- Passenger vehicles need to plan to take more time to pass a large truck than another passenger vehicle.
What You Should and Should Not Do When You Want to Pass a Truck
Now that you have a better understanding of issues that truck drivers face on the highway, including the limitations of the vehicles they are driving, anyone in a passenger vehicle should consider important safety tips when passing trucks to avoid accidents. Nationwide, State Farm, and Drive-Safely.net provide some important tips for drivers.
When you are passing a truck, you should:
- Make sure that you give yourself sufficient room around the truck, as driving too close to a tractor-trailer may result in an accident on a windy day or in the event of a tire blowout.
- Recognize a truck’s blind spots, or “no-zone” areas, and be sure to avoid them when you are passing.
- Pass on the left side of a truck whenever you are able to do so, as the truck driver has better visuals on the left side of the tractor-trailer.
- Take steps to minimize the blind spots in your own vehicle, which can involve looking behind you or using “fish-eye” mirrors.
- Recognize that truckers are generally trying to do their best to respect smaller passenger vehicles.
When you are passing a truck, you should not:
- Attempt to pass a truck that is turning, as trucks make extremely wide turns and often cannot see vehicles that are beside or behind them.
- Try to pass a truck that is backing up (or is preparing to back up), as you are probably in that truck’s blind spot.
- Use bright headlights near a truck because the large side mirrors on a truck can cause those headlights to temporarily blind the truck driver.
- Drive aggressively and attempt to pass a truck out of misplaced concerns that the truck cut you off.
- Engage in distracted driving behaviors, such as texting while driving.
Put Yourself in the Truck Driver’s Seat
If you have never driven a large truck before, it can be difficult to put yourself in the place of a long-haul truck driver. A safety discussion from TruckingTruth.com explains some more distinctions between semi-trucks and passenger vehicles that car drivers often do not realize when they are attempting to pass large trucks on the highway:
- It is not easy for semi-trucks to pass other semi-trucks: Large trucks tend to be bound to a particular speed on the highway, which is usually somewhere between 60 and 65 miles per hour. As such, when a semi-truck driver who is traveling at 64 miles per hour wants to pass another 18-wheeler that is traveling at a speed of 62 miles per hour, the first driver has only a 2-mph advantage, and as such, it can take quite a while to pass.
- It is not easy for a semi-truck that is being passed to slow down and let the other truck driver pass: Large trucks tend to rely on momentum much more than passenger vehicles do. Therefore, once they have reached their operating speed, it can be unsafe to slow down to a point that allows a slightly faster tractor-trailer to pass quickly and with ease. To be sure, if a truck did slow down substantially, it actually could cause a dangerous accident in the right-hand lane because it cannot get up to speed quickly again.
- Truck drivers usually are not trying to cut off passenger cars in the left-hand lane: When a semi-truck gets behind a slower truck in the right-hand lane, it may need to get over quickly in order to avoid losing its own momentum. In some cases, the trucker may determine that it is safer to move into the left-hand lane instead of braking without sufficient time and speed while in the right-hand lane.
- Wind can impact trucks much more significantly than passenger cars: On a particularly windy day, trucks can be pushed and pulled on the highway, and it is important to give them sufficient space.
Contact a Charlotte Truck Accident Attorney Now
If you or someone you love recently got hurt in a crash, you should discuss your case with an experienced Charlotte truck accident attorney as soon as possible. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist with your case.