We have handled millions of dollars of these claims over our combined 75 years of KLH experience. Unfortunately, these cases are some of the most complex, tragic, and bitterly fought court cases, in part because usually the damages truckers inflict on victims are death or a life time of horrible pain and suffering and disfigurement. We will discuss a few basic facts that are important for you to know when on the roadways.
Safety When Driving
- Don’t Cut Off Trucks. The total stopping distance is very different for a large truck than a passenger car. So know that cutting it close with a truck can cut your life short.
- Rear End Collisions- Between 2012 and 2014, almost half of all two-vehicle crashes were rear-end crashes. These crashes killed more than 1,700 people each year. In that same time frame, the NTSB investigated nine rear-end crashes involving a passenger or a commercial vehicle striking the rear of another vehicle, which killed 28 and injured 90 people. A 2007 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study showed that 87 percent of rear-end crashes involved a driver failing to attend to the traffic ahead.
- Blown Tires– We have all seen areas where large chunks of rubber are all over the road. That rubber is usually from a blown out tire from a big rig. Most loaded trucks can legally weigh 80,000lbs or more. This puts very high stress on the tires. You don’t want to get caught next to a large rig when the tire blows and shards of heavy rubber start flying at you. Also, when this happens there is a chance the trucker will begin swerving.
- Trucks are like sails – Trucks can be blown around by the wind even though they are heavy. Have you noticed how sometimes they swerve when it is windy? This is because a truck contains a large surface area which then creates a “sail” like effect. This makes a truck very difficult to control, especially when windy. And it is even a worse effect if the truck is empty. The end result is you should expect a truck to drift into your lane.
- Stay Out of the Truck’s Blind Spots/NO Zones. Many are not aware that trucks have very large blind spots.
- So, you should stay out of the truck’s blind spots. The passenger side of a semi has far more blind spots than the driver’s side, so use proper truck safety techniques and try to always pass – quickly – an 18 wheeler on the left whenever possible. And hug the outside of your lane. Speed up and get ahead of the truck. A trucker may not know you’re even there, and if the driver makes a quick lane change or swerves to avoid road debris, or is blown, you are in danger.
- After passing the tractor trailer, as noted earlier don’t cut in front of the truck. Instead, gain some serious distance in front of the truck before moving over into the lane in front of the truck. Remember, it can take a fully loaded rig the length of three football fields to come to a complete stop when going 60mph.
- Keep a Safe Distance. While it is never safe to tailgate any vehicle on the highway, following too close is particularly dangerous around large trucks and buses because the vehicles’ sizes prevent you from seeing the road ahead and having sufficient time to react to slowing or stopped traffic or another obstacle.
- Trucks Make Wide Turns. Because of their large size, a truck making a right turn may first swing left to clear the corner. On the flip side, a truck making a left turn may first swing wide right to clear vehicles and other objects on its left side. Expect this!
- Trucks Driving Next to Each Other – You may have noticed that trucks often ride next to each other on the highway for a long time. That is because most trucks have “speed limiters” on them. So, when a semi begins to pass another semi, the passing rig can only go a certain speed max. If the road starts to go uphill, the passing rig might be heavier and the speed will slow down at a quicker pace than the other truck he is trying to pass. The trucks then get “stuck” next to each other.