Most modern drivers are already acutely aware of the risk posed by large trucks and other commercial vehicles on public roadways. Since these vehicles are much larger than passenger vehicles, they can do dramatic amounts of damage to smaller vehicles in the event of a crash.
What fewer people may understand is that the drivers of passenger vehicles are often the ones responsible for the collisions they get into with commercial vehicles. That’s because not enough people make sure that they are following safety best practices when driving in close proximity to a large truck.
One of the biggest and most frequent mistakes people have is driving in a truck’s large blind spots. Many people will actually cut off a commercial truck in traffic, leading to an otherwise preventable collision. Memorizing the location of a commercial truck’s blind spots could save your life and the life of other people in your car.
Avoid driving directly in front of or behind commercial vehicles
The easiest to remember bit of information about the blind spots of large trucks is that if you can’t see their mirrors, they won’t be able to see you. However, there are certain angles around a vehicle where you may be able to see their mirrors but they still can’t clearly see your vehicle. Other times, they may be able to see you but can’t drive safely with you in that particular position.
You should always give trucks at least 20 feet of space between their front bumper and your vehicle. This recommendation is only valid if you travel at the same speed as the truck. If you merge in front of them doing a lower speed, you need to give even more space because of how long it takes for them to come to a stop.
You also want to give at least 30 feet of space between your vehicle and the back of a commercial truck so that you have room to stop without rear-ending a truck. Despite the presence of a rear underride guard, crashing with the back end of a trailer on a commercial truck can prove to be a fatal crash.
Avoid the left lane and the two lanes to the right of a commercial trailer
If you drive on the left of a commercial truck, you want to avoid driving in the lane immediately to its left for the entire length of its trailer and roughly 20 feet behind the vehicle. If you drive on the right, you want to give a similar amount of space, but you should extend that for two lanes.
Frankly, there is no such thing as too much space between your vehicle and a fast-moving commercial truck. Provided that your maneuvers to avoid that vehicle do not impede or slow other traffic, any steps you take to put space between your vehicle and a commercial truck can reduce your risk of a crash. If you do get into a crash caused by a commercial truck, talking with an attorney may be a good idea.