Collisions between semitrailers and passenger vehicles can cause significant damage and often result in the occupants of the smaller vehicle being severely injured. Truck drivers are held to high standards to help prevent these collisions. However, some collisions are unintentionally caused by other motorists who do not know that certain actions are more dangerous around semitrailers than they are around other vehicles.
Semitrailers present some challenges that passenger vehicles do not. Understanding these challenges can help you identify and avoid actions that may be especially risky around semitrailers.
What operating limitations contribute to semitrailer collisions?
Semitrailers can weigh 20 or 30 times more than passenger vehicles weigh. This extra weight contributes to the damage semitrailers can cause in a collision, but it also contributes to the long distance required to bring these vehicles to a stop. Semitrailers need 20 to 40 percent more space than cars need to stop.
Semitrailers are also much longer than passenger vehicles. Because of this added length, the rear wheels of a semitrailer follow a narrower path than the front wheels follow as the vehicle completes a turn. This means that truck drivers must swing the cab wide to safely complete tight turns.
Semitrailers also have large blind spots on all four sides. This can prevent truck drivers from seeing 20 feet in front, 30 feet in back, one lane on the driver’s side and two lanes on the passenger’s side.
How can I be safer when driving around semitrailers?
The operating limitations of semitrailers can seem terrifying when you consider how often you share the road with these large vehicles. However, most collisions can be avoided if truck drivers and motorists act safely with those limitations in mind.
Safe behaviors when driving near a semitrailer include:
- Making sure the front of the semitrailer fits in your rear-view mirror before merging in front of it
- Positioning your vehicle behind a turning semitrailer instead of beside it at an intersection
- Assuming the truck driver cannot see you if you cannot see his or her face in the semitrailer’s side mirror
- Passing promptly on a semitrailer’s left side when you absolutely must pass
Many semitrailer collisions are avoidable. However, if you are injured in a semitrailer collision because of someone else’s reckless actions, it may be appropriate to seek justice. Depending on your situation, you may be able to receive compensation for medical expenses and other costs associated with your injuries.