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In 2019 alone, the Texas Department of Transportation reported there were a total of 39,193 commercial truck and bus accidents. Many drivers know to give 18-wheelers a wide berth since large trucks are capable of disastrous damage. Accidents involving 18-wheelers though are still common though. Drivers still use risky maneuvers to get around the large vehicles, or there may have been slight negligence or uncontrollable circumstances with the driver of the semi.
Whatever the circumstances, the result is often the same. There is a large amount of damage, serious injuries (or in the worst cases, death), and overwhelming stress and fear when figuring out what to do next. Educating yourself about the behaviors that can help prevent 18-wheeler accidents will help keep you and your loved ones safe on the road.
While there is no sure way to completely reduce the risk, here are a few driving techniques that you can use to significantly reduce your chances of getting into an accident with a semi-truck.
Stay Away From an 18-Wheeler’s Blind Spots.
There is a saying that is often passed down from driver to driver: “If you can’t see them, odds are, they can’t see you either.” Even this old adage has its limits, though.
18-wheelers are humongous vehicles, often weighing as much as 80,000 lbs. These long, powerful vehicles are designed to take heavy loads of goods from one place to another. While it is easy for us to see the truck from a distance, compared to their hulking size, your car is nothing more than an ant. It is important to know the blind spots on a semi-truck to ensure that you avoid them when possible, and can safely pass through them if you need to get around the truck.
There are four major blind spots that are characterized by the Texas of Transportation as the “No Zones.” These zones are located on all four sides of the truck and often span into several lanes. These spots are as follows:
- The immediate left and right side of the truck (in between the front and rear tires.)
- Immediately in front of the truck
- Directly behind the truck
As mentioned earlier, the rule of thumb is, if you cannot see the truck driver in his side mirror, then he cannot see you. DO NOT stay in “No Zones”, as the driver will have no way of knowing that you are there. If you are going to pass him, make sure you have enough time to move quickly past without getting boxed in. If you do not have enough space or ample time to move through the blindspots, wait until it is safe to do so.
How to Safely Pass an 18-Wheeler
Never cut off an 18-wheeler as doing so could cause the driver of the 18-wheeler to overcorrect to avoid hitting you, lose control of the vehicle, and get into an accident with either you or those around you. When passing an 18-wheeler, make sure there is ample space between you both before you pass.
Use your turn signal to indicate your intentions so that they can adjust accordingly. Accelerate past the truck and never stay long in their blind spot. Wait to get in front of the truck until you can see them in your rearview mirror. If possible, always try to pass on the left-side of the semi-truck, as their blindspot is significantly smaller on this side.
Do Not Tailgate a Semi-Truck
Following a truck too closely will limit your view and awareness of the road, as you will not be able to see what is happening past the truck. Not to mention, the truck will not be able to see you behind them. If the 18-wheeler driver was to suddenly slam on their brakes, your reaction time is cut short because of the decreased distance. This can result in horrible collisions; the tractor-trailers do not have impact-absorbing bumpers, so your car will likely go straight under with full force.
How Much Space Should I Leave Between My Vehicle and a Tractor-Trailer?
It is recommended to keep at least 20-25 car lengths between your vehicle and an 18-wheeler. This allows you to see what is in front of the 18-wheeler, gives you enough space to slow down should they suddenly stop, and gives you the peace of mind that you have plenty of time to react in an emergency.
Avoid Using High-Beams Around Other Drivers
It can be difficult to see when traveling at night, whether on the interstate or on country roads. This is why many cars use their high-beams to get more light and visibility. Most drivers understand that they need to be mindful when using their high beams. Using these high-powered lights behind someone or towards oncoming traffic can result in temporary blindness for the other drivers, increasing the chances of an accident.
18-wheelers naturally sit higher than most standard vehicles. When a vehicle behind them has high beams on, the light can reflect off of the truck’s side-view mirrors and shine directly into the driver’s eyes. This can result in momentary blindness; even worse, the truck driver may get into an accident because they were unable to see an obstruction in the road or that the car in front of them has stopped.
Be Aware of an 18-Wheeler’s Wide Turn Radius
Most tractor-trailers have warning stickers on them to let other drivers know that they need ample space when making turns. If you are approaching an intersection alongside an 18-wheeler, do not try to zip around them or beat them to the turn. The truck driver most likely will not be able to see you which could result in a collision. It is best to stay at least a couple of car lengths behind a semi and away from their sides during a turn. If need be, wait for the truck to finish turning or for the next light cycle to make your turn. It is better to be safe than sorry.
What Should I Do If I Was Involved in an 18-Wheeler Accident in Amarillo?
No matter how many precautions you take, you can never 100% reduce the risk of an accident. If you find yourself in an 18-wheeler accident, there are a few steps you should take. Remember, while the situation may feel stressful and scary, it is important to not panic. Keeping a level head and following these tips can help you safely walk away from the accident.
- Make sure everyone is okay: If you or someone else is injured, then medical attention needs to be sought out immediately. You may have an injury even if you do not feel any pain or notice any obvious signs. You need to be checked out by a health professional to ensure that adrenaline and other circumstances are not hiding injuries. If there is an injured party that cannot move on their own, do not move them. Wait for paramedics to arrive.
- If safe to do so, take pictures of the accident and the scene: This can help paint a picture of what happened.
- Contact the police and make a police report: It is important not to admit to guilt when making the police report. Only give information that you are sure is true.
- Exchange information with the other driver(s) involved: This includes license information, insurance, name, number, address, and license plate number.
- Get witness statements if there are any available: Make sure to get their name, number, address, and their statement as to what they witnessed. This can be a video recording or written record.
- Keep records of damage bills and medical bills relating to the accident.
- Hire an experienced car accident attorney.
The Amarillo 18-Wheeler Accident Attorneys That Will Fight for You
If you are involved in an 18-wheeler accident that was caused by the negligence of the other driver, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for damages and medical expenses. An experienced car accident attorney can help you through your recovery by ensuring that you get the compensation you deserve. Contact the Hernandez Law Group, P.C. today for more information on our services or to schedule a free no-obligation consultation.