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How to stay safe around commercial trucks

Truck accidents can be absolutely devastating. Factors such as a typical big rig's mass, size and potentially dangerous cargo often contribute to the severity of a crash when a truck is involved.

Understanding the factors that make trucks so dangerous can help you take preventative measures when driving in proximity to large trucks. While you cannot control what other drivers on the road do, you can decrease the likelihood of getting into a crash with a truck.

Allow trucks room to turn

You have seen the length of the average semi-trailer. Among other things, this means trucks require more room than other vehicles when they make turns. Some trucks may take up two full lanes. When you see a truck begin signaling a turn, the prudent thing to do is keep your distance. While unwieldy trucks can take their time maneuvering, resist the temptation to slip through on the right, as that can be a highly risky move.

Stay aware of blind zones

Another problem a truck's size creates is reduced visibility all around. The truck driver suffers from blind zones that include 20 feet in front, 30 feet in the back and large diagonal stripes of the neighboring lanes. The safest way to travel is to stay out of these blind zones. However, you may need to enter one as you keep up with the flow of traffic in your lane. Signal clearly before doing so, and move out of the blind spot as soon as you can.

Keep your distance

Tailgating and cutting are generally rude and risky behaviors. Doing it to trucks can elevate the risk factor significantly. If either you or the truck need to slow suddenly, rear-ending or being rear-ended by a truck bears the strong likelihood of serious damage. Traveling too closely behind a truck can also put you in the line of fire if its cargo begins coming loose.

Understand why trucks may move slowly

Some commercial trucks have restrictions that limit their speed, which may be enforced by technology. It can be frustrating when you get stuck behind a truck moving slower than other vehicles on the road. The best course of action is patience; tailgating, honking or making dangerous efforts to pass can lead to an accident.

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