Readers Sherry and Stan I. recently wrote, "Large trucks often seem to go too fast in our region, even though the traffic is very dense. What's the best way to avoid an accident with a truck?"
The single best strategy: Steer clear of the truck's "No Zone." That includes blind spots in truck's side mirrors, the 20 car lengths directly behind it and at least four car lengths in front to give it room to stop.
Dark days and icy, rainy weather only increase the space buffer needed around trucks.
We empathize with the panic many drivers feel when they look behind them and see nothing but grille. In car versus truck accidents, car occupants almost always come out worse (one in 10 highway fatalities involves a big truck, even though trucks make up fewer than one in 10 vehicles on the road).
Still, in fatal accident investigations, 81% of car drivers have "fault factors" versus 27% of truck drivers, according to the American Trucking Association. So the glimmer of good news? There's more drivers can do to stay safer:
Don't linger near a truck. If you can't see the driver's face in the side mirrors, the driver can't see you.
Pass trucks quickly on the left side only, and don't return to the lane until you can see both of the truck's headlights in your rearview mirror (then don't slow down).
Be aware of approaching weigh stations and give trucks plenty of room to make their way to the right lane.
Don't cut in front of a truck to beat it to an exit. A loaded truck can take the length of a football field to stop.
Allow for a truck's wide turns. To accommodate its trailer's swing, a truck turning left often must first pull to the right. The opposite is true for trucks turning right. Don't roll up alongside, assuming the truck has pulled over to let you pass.
NOTE: While we're experts in loss prevention and home/auto safety, we don't consider ourselves experts in traffic laws or their enforcement. Information shared here is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. If you have legal concerns, we urge you to contact a law enforcement source or attorney in your community.