Your driving practices probably involve a lot of risk management habits. You keep enough space between the front of your vehicle and the rear end of the car in front of you so that you won’t cause a crash. You know not to text while driving or to get behind the wheel after you’ve had a couple of drinks.
Most of those safety rules focus on the risk you have from other people in passenger vehicles. However, some of the worst collisions possible involve getting hit by commercial trucks, not someone in an SUV or minivan.
Thankfully, there are a few simple safety practices that could reduce your risk of contributing to a crash with a big commercial truck.
Recognize and respect the blind zones around big trucks
Semitrucks are multiple times taller, longer and heavier than passenger vehicles. Their size means that they have large blind zones on both sides and to the back. Vehicles in these blind spots could easily wind up damaged in a crash if the truck driver turns or merges inappropriately because they didn’t see the smaller vehicle. One of the best rules is to assume that if you cannot see a truck driver’s face in their side mirror, that they cannot see you either.
Be particularly cautious when merging in front of a commercial truck
Override collisions occur when a commercial truck can’t stop in time and ends up going up and over a passenger vehicle in front of them. As you can probably imagine, these crashes often result in catastrophic injuries and total destruction of the smaller vehicle.
Ideally, you will wait to merge until you are not merging directly in front of a commercial vehicle. If you must, make sure that your speed is higher than theirs and that you leave multiple vehicle lengths between your rear end and the front of the truck.
Pay attention to placement when approaching an intersection
Commercial trucks often make wide turns, which means they may move into other lanes of traffic. Using your turn signals will help vehicles near you understand what you intend to do at an intersection. If you reach an intersection and will be facing or next to a commercial truck, you might want to give a little extra space to allow for a turn or similar maneuver.
Preventative measures can help keep you safe, but they cannot mitigate the risk of bad driving on the part of a commercial driver. Knowing your rights can help you stand up for yourself after a serious commercial crash.