The slightest mishap in a truck can start a swift chain of events which ends in a catastrophic or deadly accident. Truck drivers are not perfect. Even if they were, other things can go wrong, including equipment failure, road defects, and the reckless behavior of other drivers. By understanding how truck accidents occur and using extra caution around big trucks, you can avoid causing or being caught up in a trucking accident.
You should always be aware of your surroundings and on the lookout for erratic behavior when driving a vehicle, and this is never more true than when you are in the presence of a big truck.
If you see a truck making strange or sudden maneuvers, or the trailer stats to sway, keep your distance. It could indicate equipment failure, obstacles in the road, or an intoxicated driver.
Don’t forget about other cars. Be on the lookout for bad behavior in other drivers near big trucks. When a truck driver is forced to take sudden evasive maneuvers, it can easily jackknife, causing a serious accident, and you don’t want to get in the middle of it.
Stay out of blind spots
When a truck is turning or changing lanes, it can easily crush a car that’s in its blind spot. Drivers are trained to watch out for vehicles entering their blind spots, and experienced drivers know how to anticipate when another vehicle may have entered a blind spot even though they cannot see all of the perimeters of the truck. However, you don’t want to rely on that training and experience. An unskilled, intoxicated or distracted truck driver can very easily make a mistake, costing you your life. How do you know if you are in a blind spot? Look for the driver. If you can’t see the driver through the windows or in a mirror, you’re in a blind spot!
Watch for wide turns
When trucks swing out to the left taking up two lanes of traffic before making a right hand turn, they do it because they have to, not just to annoy other drivers. In the process, they create and open space to their immediate right, which many drivers are tempted to pull into. Never, pull into that space, even if the truck does not have its blinker on. You could be crushed.
Truck drivers have a responsibility to look for other vehicles and to use their turn signals, but if you pull into this space you will be in a very bad blind spot, and the trucker may not see you. It’s not worth the risk to save a few minutes in traffic.
Allow plenty of room when passing
Trucks need more room to stop than you do. They are very heavy and have a lot of momentum. They may have bad brakes, and you really don’t know if the driver is paying attention. Cutting off a big truck can mean getting rear-ended or it can cause the truck driver to make dangerous evasive maneuvers, causing a jackknife or rollover. How do you know if you’ve given the truck enough room? Most truck drivers will flash their lights when you are safe to return to their lane.
Horn before and while overtaking
As much as possible, overtake the truck only on the driver side so he can see you clearly, and when doing so please hoot. You should however do this responsibly, not to the point of becoming a menace to other road users.
Give enough space on a steep slope
It is not safe to drive too close behind a truck when it is going uphill. Give as much space as possible between your vehicle and the truck.
Apply the same caution if you are in front of the truck driving downhill.