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Originally Posted On: Tips for Driving Safely Around Semi-Trucks | Georgia Auto Law
Semi-trucks are tough. They weigh 20 to 30 times more than passenger cars. This makes it harder for them to accelerate, stop, and execute turns.
In 2019 alone, more than 4,100 people died in a truck crash. That number is a 31 percent increase over the death toll in 2009. One reason for this increase is that people are not following tips for driving safely.
What should you do before you hit the road? What are the important things to remember about driving safely? How can you pass, accelerate, and turn when near a truck?
Answer these questions and you can get to where you need to go without getting into an accident. Here is your quick guide.
Avoid Driving Near Semi-Trucks
Many semi-trucks drive on highways near commercial centers. Whenever possible, drive on backroads and through residential areas.
Look at maps before you go to your car and plan out a route. Driving through a suburb may make your journey a little longer. But it will increase your safety and provide side streets you can go down if you see a truck.
If you are driving on the highway and you see a truck near you, you can get off at the nearest exit. Most GPS trackers and directional apps will help you find a new route. You can also get back on the highway once the truck has passed you.
Follow Basic Driving Safety Practices
You’ve heard of many basic practices for driving safety. You should follow all of them at all times, especially when you are near trucks.
Wear a seatbelt that is firm across your chest and waist. Do not remove it while you are on the road. If you need to take off a jacket, pull your car over to do so.
Never speed. Some highways may have minimum speed limits, which you should exceed. But you should never exceed the maximum limit, even if you see other drivers speeding.
Do not make a phone call or text while driving. Hands-free technology keeps a phone out of your hand, but a call may distract you.
It is okay to leave the radio on, but you should avoid changing channels or the volume. Listen to a full-length album or podcast so you aren’t reaching for the controls.
Angle your mirrors so that they form a straight line. Scan them every few seconds to see where cars are behind you. You should also look straight ahead through the windshield to make sure you are in your lane away from vehicles.
Watch for Blind Spots
Your car has two areas that you cannot see with your mirrors. They are to the left and right sides of your vehicle. They start from your doors and project outward, covering triangular spaces in the adjoining lanes.
You should look over your shoulder through your side windows to make sure those spots are clear. This is essential whenever you are making turns.
A truck has even bigger blind spots. A truck has one directly in front of and behind the vehicle. They also have one on each side, with their right-side blind spot covering two lanes.
Never drive in the blind spot of a truck. They cannot see you even if you have headlights and blinkers on. You should move out of the area immediately.
In particular, you should get away from the sides of the truck. Trucks require a lot of space to execute turns. Change lanes whenever possible.
Being behind a truck is safer than being in front of one. But debris may strike your windshield. Trucks have high beds that strike windshields instead of front bumpers in rear-end collisions.
You should never tailgate a truck. Back up and maintain your distance.
Adjust Your Speed
If you see a truck in front of you, you should provide at least 30 feet of space from it. Even if you are 30 feet away, you should slow down a little bit. The more space you give, the more stopping distance you have.
If you see a truck behind you, you should speed up to clear at least 20 feet of space. Trucks require more room to stop than cars. They will run into you when they stop and you are too close.
You should be particularly careful on rural or hill roads. Trucks will not stop if they start to roll downhill. Get out of their way and let them pass.
Signal Your Turns
You should try to give a truck a full lane of space. But it may be necessary to pass to the side or in front of a truck.
Speed up before you make your pass. Turn on your blinker as you hit the accelerator. Check to see that no one else is around, then execute your turn.
Never assume that a truck can see your blinker. Use a hand signal to show what turn you are making. Make eye contact with the driver in your mirror.
If you are passing a truck on the side, pass it to the left. The blindspot there is smaller than on the right. Remain in that lane until you have put the truck well behind you.
Essential Tips for Driving Safely
You should always remember tips for driving safely. Avoid semi-trucks whenever possible. Drive through residential areas and on backroads.
Follow basic practices like wearing a seatbelt. Be mindful of the blind spots on your car and a truck. Look out your windows and move out of their way.
Adjust your speed so you put distance between yourself and the truck. When you need to turn, signal with your blinkers and hands.
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