Road safety secrets: 5 simple tips for staying safe around semi-trucks

Most drivers, cyclists and pedestrians know that road safety isn't something you can take for granted. What many overlook, however, is that passive hazards - like potholes and bad weather - aren't the only dangers to look out for. In 2014, large commercial vehicles were involved in 12.2 percent of all fatal accidents and 7.8 percent of nonfatal crashes on U.S. roads.

Knowing how to share the road with semi-trucks might determine whether you complete your next journey in good health. Here are five great pointers:

  1. Make yourself seen: You probably understand that riding in another vehicle's blind spots increases your chances of getting hit. Commercial truck drivers, however, are plagued by relatively low visibility, so they need even more of a buffer to avoid running into you. If you find yourself traveling next to or behind a truck, either pass safely or slow down to increase the gap.
  2. Avoid sudden moves: Trucks are many times bigger than other vehicles, and they take longer to react. If you dart out in front of one, the driver may not have time to slow down before smashing into you. Play it safe by avoiding sudden lane changes in front of semis or other vehicles nearby. Always use your signals properly, and be ready for gusts of wind that might move you suddenly when you're trying to pass large vehicles.
  3. Give trucks more room at highway speeds: If you're traveling down steep inclines, such as mountain highways, swallow your pride and let truckers pass. These vehicles are hefty enough that most roads include emergency escape ramps for when their brakes fail, and you don't want to be caught in front of one in such a situation. Even if you're driving in flat areas, trucks require more stopping distance, so it's wise not to loiter in their vicinity.
  4. Be more careful around intersections: Trucks have increased difficulty with traffic maneuvers that you might think are simple. If you do something that brings you too close, such as trying to drive past a truck as it turns, you might get sideswiped or worse. Similarly, you need to take extra care to adjust your speed when you approach an intersection with a large vehicle.
  5. Become a better driver: Finally, remember that truckers aren't the only ones to blame for semi accidents. Traveling between two large trucks, driving erratically, giving in to distractions or sitting in a broken-down vehicle that isn't completely clear of the road could make a jury decide you're partially at fault for any collision that ensues. Be extra aware around commercial vehicles, and always employ safe driving practices.

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