Tips for safe driving around tractor trailers

The presence of so many trucks on Connecticut roads can present dangers to drivers but there are things they can do to improve their safety.

In 2014, the National Transportation Safety Administration reported that 248 people were killed in traffic accidents that happened in Connecticut. Out of that number, large trucks were responsible for 2 percent, or four deaths. The number of injuries was unknown.

Tractor trailers are a common sight on the roads around Connecticut and they have the power to inflict a great deal of damage, permanently changing the lives of those unlucky enough to tangle with them. Trucking accident injuries can leave people with traumatic brain injuries, lost limbs, paralysis and permanent disability. However, people can lower their risk of getting into a collision by following a few safety tips.

Make sure the driver can see you

Truckers sit much higher than other vehicles but this does not mean that they have better visibility. On the contrary, the size of the truck they are driving, as well as the trailers, makes it more difficult for them to see motorists. According to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, large trucks have blind spots that are located in the following areas:

  • Directly in front of the cab
  • On the right side, extending from behind the cab area to several feet in front
  • In back of the truck's trailer
  • On the left side, extending from where the driver sits to the first part of the trailer

Referred to as no zones, motorists should avoid these areas as much as possible. If they have to pass the truck, they should do so as quickly as they can and then make sure that they can see the driver in their rear view mirror before they move back over.

Don't cut a tractor trailer off

Driving a heavy truck is not the same as driving a passenger vehicle. While passenger vehicles now feature antilock brakes and other safety technology, tractor trailers are big, weigh at least 80,000 pounds with a fully loaded trailer, and are difficult to maneuver. They also take much longer to stop - about 430 feet. This can mean immediate trouble for a motorist who decides to cut off a semi and then has to slam on the brakes.

Don't flash your lights

Geico insurance states that despite what drivers think, flashing their headlights at a trucker is not a code that means a specific message. Truckers may think that the motorists are warning them of the presence of law enforcement or that the motorists want them to change lanes. This confusion could lead the trucker to move over into the lane at the same time that a car is, or to slow down.

Driving safely around other vehicles is the best way to avoid a collision. However, people in Connecticut cannot always anticipate the actions of another driver. When they are hurt through another driver's negligence, they may find it helpful to meet with an experienced attorney to discuss their options.