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How to drive near a semi truck

Accidents with tractor trailers are the most dangerous because of the sheer size of these large trucks. Consequences include severe vehicle damage, traumatic brain injury and other major bodily harm. Fatality rates in trucking accidents have increased, according to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Although many factors are out of your control, such as the trucker’s driving, you can still take safety measures to reduce the risk of getting into an accident. It starts with knowing how to drive near semi trucks.

Keep a safe distance

The girth of semis makes them harder to maneuver. They require more space to stop and make turns. They have a harder time going uphill as well. These challenges are even greater in poor weather. For these reasons, you should maintain a longer distance when following a semi truck. Normal recommendations include following the three-second rule, so increase it when behind a truck, and even more so in inclement weather.

Stay out of blind spots

Despite the truck height and large mirrors, truckers do not have an easy time seeing other vehicles. Specific areas where vehicles are not visible are blind spots. They are directly in front of and behind the truck, along with the side-views diagonal from the cab. Stay out of these areas. If you must pass a semi, do so quickly and only change lanes once you are far enough ahead.

Let trucks turn first

The trailer part of a tractor trailer is long and inflexible, requiring the truck to use a lot of space when turning. Sharp turns, usually to the right, are even trickier. Truckers will drive the cab out past the dividing line to ensure the trailer will have enough room to make the turn. Sometimes they may turn from the other turn lane, so if you are in the rightmost lane, let the truck turn first. At stop signs, if there are too many vehicles and not enough space, truckers may wave other drivers to go first. Pay attention so you can make their turns easy for them and therefore safe for you.