Our consumer-driven economy is powered by the commercial trucks that deliver the goods we want and need. As demand grows, so too does the number of semi-trucks on our roadways. The fact is that, if you drive, you share the road with big rigs. Knowing the safety ins and outs can help keep you safer out there. Accidents involving semis are among the deadliest on our highways. If you or someone you love has been injured in a tractor-trailer accident, consult with an experienced California truck accident attorney today.
Did You Know – A Trucker’s 7 Most FAQ
- A Truck driver sits about 6 ft. higher than average motorists
- Truck drivers have a panoramic view for miles ahead and can see across the top of traffic
- Truck drivers are trained to look in their mirrors every 5 seconds
- If you cannot see the truck driver’s face in his left-side mirror, he/she cannot see – you.
- Large trucks have several blind-spots known as “no-zones” on all 4 sides of the truck.
- If you are following a truck closer than “4 seconds” – you are in their rear No-Zone.
- Never pass a big rig, semi-truck, 18-wheeler or commercial truck on the left side
Commercial Trucks Require Significant More Stopping Distance
As experienced drivers, we are used to bringing our vehicles to safe and complete stops within relatively short distances, but the same is not true for big rigs. Their immense size and weight translates into much greater stopping times and distances. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) shares some significant information regarding commercial trucks and their stopping distances:
- A semi that is fully loaded and that is traveling under good conditions at highway speeds requires the distance of almost two football fields to come to a complete stop.
- This stopping distance increases with heavier loads and with bad road conditions, including the effects of inclement weather.
When semi-trucks are in your midst, factor their increased stopping distances into your driving decisions. Never cut sharply in front of a semi. Instead, wait until you can see its entire cab in your rearview mirror before you pull back into the truck’s lane.
Watch Out for the No-Zones around Large Commercial Vehicles
Every vehicle has a blind spot or two that makes it difficult for us – as drivers – to see whatever happens to be within them. This is why it’s so important to physically check before changing lanes. Commercial truck drivers, on the other hand, experience wide stretches of blinds spots – or “no zones” – all the way around their rigs. This includes in front of the truck’s cab and behind its trailer, so make it your policy to never crowd a semi.
Truck drivers sit high above the roadway, which can appear to give them a bird’s eye view of traffic, but that’s not really how it works. If you are in one of an 18-wheeler’s many no zones, the trucker cannot see you and that puts you in a dangerous position. Never drive near a semi-truck if you can avoid it. The trucker’s right-hand side harbors the largest blind spot, and this makes passing on the right exceedingly dangerous.
Truck-Only Lanes in California
What are truck-only lanes? Truck-only lanes are lanes assigned for the use of trucks. The goal of truck-only lanes is to divide trucks from other mixed-flow traffic to improve safety and stabilize traffic flow. Very few truck-only lanes exist in the United States. Most states limit trucks to certain lanes, but likewise, allow all vehicles to use the same lanes. California has the following two truck-only lanes:
Northbound and southbound I-5 in Los Angeles County at the State Route 14 split. Looking in the north direction, the truck lanes start as two roads: NB at LA County postmile C043.925 and SB at C043.899. The NB and SB roads meet at postmile C044.924 and continue together up to postmile C046.351.
The total lengths are 2.426 miles (NB) and 2.452 miles (SB). The purpose of these truck lanes is to separate slower moving trucks from the faster general traffic on the grade. After building the new I-5 alignment, the original alignment was used for the truck-only lanes. This truck-only facility has been in place for about 30 years.
Southbound I-5 in Kern County at the State Route 99 junction near the Grapevine. This truck lane starts on Route 99 at Kern County postmile L000.629 (the equivalent of I-5 postmile R015.838) and finishes on I-5 at postmile R015.492. The total length is 0.346 miles. The idea of this design is to place truck merges farther downstream of the automobile traffic merge of I-5 & 99.
Large Commercial Trucks Are More Difficult to Maneuver than Smaller Passenger Vehicles
The vehicles we drive are capable of maneuvering smoothly through any number of traffic situations, but it’s important to recognize that commercial trucks are far too large and cumbersome to do the same. The fact is that 18-wheelers need time and space to perform nearly any driving task, including changing lanes, stopping, and making turns.
Crowd a commercial truck at your own risk. When a truck signals its intention to make any kind of move, back off and allow it the space it needs to follow through with the maneuver safely. Never try to rush past a semi-truck when it’s preparing to make a turn or to change lanes. The few seconds you may save is simply not worth the immense risk.
Tips for Driving Safely around Large Commercial Trucks
You’ve been driving a while, and you know the rules of the road. When it comes to sharing the road with big rigs, however, it’s worth reviewing the safety basics:
- Drive Defensively – You learned that driving defensively is important in your first driver’s ed. class, and it remains just as true today. Driving defensively is all about paying attention to what’s going on around you, remaining alert and focused, factoring in the condition of the road, factoring in the effects of weather, and allowing as much space between you and other vehicles – especially semi-trucks – as you possibly can.
- Pass Quickly – It’s never a good idea to linger as you pass another vehicle, and this is especially true when it comes to 18-wheelers. Because of their size and weight, commercial trucks are often unable to maintain consistent speeds. As such, it’s not uncommon to need to pass a lot of trucks. Don’t attempt to overtake a truck until it’s clear to do so, and then get the job done. Your goal should always be to spend as little time next to a semi-truck as possible, so pass swiftly and with care.
- Use Your Signal Every Single Time – Driving is a complicated task that demands a great deal of attention. When you use your turn signals to let others (including truckers) know your intentions, it helps keep everyone on the roadway safer. Make using your turn signals a habit that you never break.
If You’ve Been Injured in a Truck Accident, Consult with an Experienced California Truck Accident Lawyer Today
Commercial truck accidents are exceedingly dangerous and are often devastating. The dedicated legal team at Arash Law in California is here to aggressively advocate for your claim’s best possible resolution. Our experienced California truck accident attorneys are here to help, so please don’t hesitate to call our office at (888) 488-1391 today. We serve all of Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Fresno, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Diego, San Jose, Riverside, Bakersfield, Orange County and the rest of California.
Photo Credits: · Featured Image - Photo Courtesy of Markus Spiske