Accidents with 18-wheelers are some of the most tragic crash types, often leaving victims with disabling or fatal injuries. Sadly, despite how devastating these accidents can be, they occur at an alarmingly high rate. In fact, the state of Connecticut reports that in a single year, medium/heavy trucks were involved in more than 5,400 accidents, which means that there were more than 14 large truck accidents reported every day.
When a large truck and a smaller passenger vehicle collide, the smaller vehicle is often completely crushed or destroyed, leaving the driver and passengers with severe, often life-changing injuries. As a driver in our state, knowing how to avoid accidents with 18-wheeler is critical. When on the road, always follow these tips for staying safe around big rigs:
- Understand that Large Trucks Need More Room and Time
A critical thing to keep in mind when sharing the road with 18-wheelers is that these vehicles do not handle the same as passenger cars. Due to their massive weight, large trucks can weigh 20 times more than standard vehicles and they require more time to start and stop and need more room in order to maneuver safely. In order to accommodate these needs, you should always provide a truck with plenty of room when changing lanes or passing, and keep in mind that trucks will often move to the opposite direction before making a right or left-hand turn (i.e. bring the vehicle to the left before turning right to allow for more room).
- Stay Out of a Truck’s Blind Spots
One of the easiest ways to avoid an accident is to stay out of a truck’s blind spots, called “No Zones” by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Blind spots and no zones refer to the areas along the side of a truck, as well as in front and behind a large truck, where the truck driver cannot see you. All vehicles have blind spots, but because trucks are so much larger than standard vehicles, blind spots for large trucks are bigger. The blind spots on a large truck include the first 20 ft. directly in front of a large truck, the 30 feet directly behind a large truck, one lane to the left of a large truck, and two lanes to the right of a large truck.
The easiest way to ensure that you’re not traveling in a no zone is simply to not drive around large trucks. If you have to pass a large truck, make sure you pass the truck quickly.
- Never Tailgate or Cut a Truck Off
Two of the most dangerous things that a driver can do are to tailgate a large truck and cut off a large truck when changing lanes. These actions can result in override or underride collisions, where a large truck literally rides over a smaller vehicle, or the large truck stops suddenly, resulting in a smaller vehicle that is following to ride under the truck’s rear. These accidents are often fatal.
As mentioned above, large trucks have blind spots both directly in front of and behind them, which means that when you are tailgating or cut off a large truck, the driver may not be able to see you. Because trucks take much longer to stop than do smaller vehicles, if you are traveling in front of a large truck and the truck driver cannot see you and you are forced to stop suddenly, the truck driver may be unable to bring their vehicle to halt in time to avoid an accident.
You Have a Responsibility to Operate Your Vehicle as Safely as Possible
As a driver in Connecticut, you have a duty to operate your vehicle as safely as possible and to always act responsibly while behind the wheel. Doing so can protect your life and the lives of others.
Unfortunately, even if you are driving as safely as possible, the same is not always true for others on the road. If you are involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler that is caused by the fault of another party, you may have a claim for damages. At The APEX Law Firm, our Connecticut truck accident lawyers are ready to represent you. For a free consultation, please call us at (860) 900-0900, visit our Hartford County office in person, or send us a message for a free evaluation of your case.