4 Tips for Driving Safely Near Large Trucks in California

Drivers can lower their risk of large truck crashes by knowing how trucks differ from passenger cars and avoiding actions that can contribute to accidents.

Each year, large trucks play a part in thousands of serious crashes in Calabasas and other cities in California. In 2013, truckers were involved in more than 5,000 injury crashes and over 250 fatal accidents throughout the state, according to the California Highway Patrol. Sadly, many of these crashes may occur in part because other motorists don’t know how to safely drive near these vehicles. Fortunately, with the following measures, California drivers can greatly reduce their risk of experiencing large truck crashes.

1. Respect vehicular differences

Large trucks and passenger vehicles possess distinct characteristics and present unique hazards. Drivers who don’t understand these differences may needlessly place themselves in dangerous situations. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, large trucks vary from passenger cars in the following critical ways:

• Weight and size. Large trucks can outweigh other cars dramatically, which can make serious outcomes more likely in accidents.

• Lack of bumpers. Trucks don’t have bumpers to dispel energy during crashes, and this characteristic can also make truck crashes more catastrophic.

• Stopping distance. Due to their braking systems and increased weight, trucks may need significantly more time and distance to stop than other vehicles.

Other drivers should keep all of these issues in mind when driving in the vicinity of large trucks or executing maneuvers such as passing.

2. Allow extra space

The Connecticut Department of Transportation recommends that drivers avoid closely following large trucks or moving into the lane immediately in front of a truck. Drivers who don’t allow adequate following distance behind a truck may be at risk for riding under the truck during a rear-end collision, and they also may have impaired visibility. To allow trucks enough following distance, drivers should never merge in front of a truck before the whole front of the vehicle is visible in the rearview mirror.

3. Anticipate in-town maneuvers

When driving in town, large trucks may make unusual maneuvers that seem unpredictable to other motorists. For example, truckers may start right turns by swinging wide to the left to ensure adequate clearance. Therefore, drivers should be careful when passing a truck that could be turning. Trucks also frequently need to back into loading docks when driving in town. Drivers should avoid attempting to pass behind backing trucks, since visibility can be poor during this maneuver.

4. Beware of blind spots

Since trucks have significantly bigger blind spots than other vehicles, it’s critical for drivers to be aware of these zones. The right blind spot, which covers multiple lanes and reaches almost the full length of the truck trailer, is the largest. Consequently, passenger car drivers should never pass trucks on the passenger side. Generally, drivers should avoid lingering near trucks and remember that these vehicles have front blind spots in addition to side and rear ones.

When to seek help

Unfortunately, prudent drivers who implement these tips may still be at risk for large truck accidents. This is especially a danger when truckers engage in reckless behaviors that make a crash more likely. Given the devastating outcomes that large truck crashes often have, victims of these accidents may benefit from consulting with an attorney. An attorney may be able to help a person document the circumstances of a crash, assess any damages and seek appropriate recompense.