When compared to the number of accidents involving standard-sized motor vehicles in Alabama, the number of accident involving big rigs may seem insignificant. However, due to their size, accidents involving large trucks are often much more dangerous, and have much more profound consequences, than do accidents that only involve smaller vehicles. Indeed, in the year 2015 in Alabama, data provided by the Center for Advanced Public Safety at the University of Alabama indicates that there were 8,484 large trucks involved in crashes, 2,367 injuries, and 118 fatalities resulting from those crashes. This means that the injury rate for large truck crashes is greater than 25 percent, and the fatality rate is nearly 1.4 percent, compared to the fatality rate of .53 percent for all crashes.
Because large truck accidents are so dangerous, knowing how to drive around big rigs and best protect yourself from a collision is important. Here are some tips for the best ways to avoid an accident with a big rig:
Stay Out of “No Zones”
Most people understand that all vehicles, but especially large trucks, have blind spots, and that staying out of these blind spots is an important safety element. However, not all drivers may understand just how expansive these blind spots, also called “no zones” really are, or where they are located.
A great graphic provided by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) displays that “no zones” for a large truck are:
- 20 feet in front of the large truck;
- Two lanes to the right of the large truck;
- 30 feet directly behind the vehicle; and
- One lange directly to the left of the large truck.
While the graphic explains that the area behind the truck and to the left (i.e. back left corner of the truck) is “OK,” drivers should avoid staying so close to a large truck regardless, as entering no zones is more likely.
If you’re not sure whether you’re in a “no zone,” ask yourself if you can see the truck driver using the large truck’s side mirror. If you cannot, you should assume that the truck driver cannot see you.
Know How to Pass a Big Rig
Another important thing to know when driving around large trucks is how to safely pass a truck. Not only do trucks have huge blind spots, but they also require a lot more distance for braking than do regular vehicles, which can put them in a precarious position if drivers cut in front of them too closely. Tips for safe passing include:
- Always pass on the left;
- Always signal and allow the truck driver plenty of time to see your intent to pass prior to moving your vehicle;
- Never pass on a downgrade, as this is where large trucks pick up speed;
- Don’t spend too much time in a blind spot – after your intent to pass has been made clear, move into the left lane, and accelerate quickly to pass the truck; and
- Give plenty of room if transitioning back to the same lane of the truck – never cut a large truck off.
Be Patient and Pay Attention on Alabama Highways
Many truck accidents are caused because the drivers of passenger vehicles simply don’t have the patience to wait out a large truck when they are performing a maneuver, such as making a right-hand turn, passing another truck, or even just driving at a slower-than-preferred pace. There is no doubt that driving around large trucks can be frustrating, but one of the most dangerous things that you can do is to act with impatience.
Not only should you act patiently, but also remember to pay attention, and put distractions away. It only takes a second of taking your eyes off the road for a crash to occur.
Contact Our Experienced Lawyers After a Large Truck Crash in Alabama
Most truck accidents are avoidable, although often truck collisions are not the fault of the driver of the passenger car. If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident caused by the negligence of another party–such as the truck driver or trucking company–our lawyers at the offices of Burge & Burge, P.C. want to meet with you. Please visit our offices in person, send us a message using the contact form on our website, or call us at 205-251-9000 to request your free consultation with one of our skilled Alabama truck accident attorneys.