The do’s and don’ts of sharing the road with trucks in California

Collisions involving large commercial vehicles and smaller automobiles are all too common in Ventura County, and throughout California. Due to the size differential of the vehicles, among other factors, these types of crashes often result in serious and catastrophic injuries, as well as in death. In fact, the California Highway Patrol reports that there were 256 fatal trucking accidents, and more than 5,200 truck-related wrecks resulted in injuries, in 2013 alone. While not all commercial vehicle collisions are avoidable, there are things that people can do to help improve their safety when sharing the road with truckers.

Do understand the limitations of large trucks

Operating commercial vehicles is not the same as driving smaller passenger automobiles. Consequently, many are unaware that it takes longer for these large trucks to stop. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, it can take nearly 800 feet for a semitrailer to stop when traveling 55 mph. Smaller cars traveling the same speed, however, can typically stop within 400 feet. As such, drivers are advised to avoid moving in front of trucks and stopping unexpectedly.

Do not try to squeeze past large trucks

In addition to needing more distance to stop safely, tractor-trailers also require more room to maneuver. For example, truckers may have to swing their vehicles out wide to the left in order to make a right-hand turn. This may cause other drivers to think they are actually turning left, or are continuing to drive straight.

When squeezing along side their vehicles, to make a right turn, for example, truckers may be unable to see other cars. Therefore, people may help avoid some truck collisions if they refrain from assuming truckers' intentions. Furthermore, motorists should allow these large vehicles ample space to maneuver.

Do be prepared for gusts

Due to their size, semitrailers often create strong wind gusts. This is particularly true when they are traveling on the highways at high rates of speed. These gusts may cause unprepared drivers to lose control of their vehicles. Thus, it is recommended that drivers keep both hands on their steering wheels when passing, or being passed by, commercial trucks.

Do not drive in the no zones

Like other vehicles, tractor-trailers have blind spots. These areas are located on both sides and in the front of large trucks and, according to the American Automobile Association, may extend up to 200 feet to the rear of these vehicles. When traveling in these so-called no zones, drivers and their vehicles are essentially invisible to truckers. Therefore, it is suggested that motorists avoid hanging out, or driving for extended distances, in the blind spots of these vehicles.

Consult with an attorney

Should a trucking accident occur despite taking precautions, those injured often require extensive medical treatment. They may also need time off of work to recover, which could lead to lost wages. If truckers, or the trucking companies, were negligent or careless, however, they may be held responsible. Working with an attorney may help those who have experienced situations such as this to understand their rights and options for seeking financial compensation.