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Improve road safety by learning to share the road with tractor trailers

Californians can reduce their risk of getting into a trucking accident through education and awareness.

With two bridges and highways entering into San Francisco and more freeways across the bay, it is a common sight to see tractor trailers. These heavy trucks are vital to the economy, bringing in goods for retailers, service providers and materials for companies. However, when these trucks are involved in an accident, the results can be disastrous. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that for the year 2013, 243 people in California died from collisions involving tractor trailers and other heavy trucks.

Many Californians are heard complaining about the number of tractor trailers on the road. This is due to an ongoing increase in transportation needs, according to the Commercial Carrier Journal. The transportation industry is projected to grow through 2025 by 23.5 percent and most of that increase will occur in the trucking section. This will lead to additional tractor trailers appearing on the road and it becomes even more important for people to learn how to share the road with these large vehicles.

Don’t hang out in the no zones

Many motorists fail to realize that a tractor trailer’s larger size means it has larger blind spots, or no zones. These no zones are located in the following areas:

Directly in front of the truck – while the trucker does sit much higher, the size of the cab he is driving prevents him from seeing what is directly in front of him. When motorists are passing a truck, they should make sure that they can see the trucker in their rear-view window before they move over into the same lane.
Directly behind the trailer – truck drivers do not have the ability to see behind them as a motorists does – there is no rear window. Therefore, if they are switching lanes at the same time a motorist is, they won’t know the passenger vehicle is there.
On the right side of the cab – a cab’s side mirror only shows truckers the lane to their right where the front of the trailer begins. If a car is lingering on the right side of the cab, it is invisible to the trucker.
On the left side of the cab – this zone is smaller than the one on the right and extends from the driver’s seat to the front of the first trailer.
When motorists plan to pass a truck, they should always try to do so on the left side. This allows the trucker to see the approaching vehicle.

Give them space

A passenger vehicle is smaller, faster, and easier to maneuver than a heavy truck pulling one or more trailers. This difference encourages some drivers to crowd a tractor trailer, pass them on the right or cut them off. However, a heavy truck weighs about 80,000 tons according to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. When a trucker hits the brakes while traveling at 55 miles per hour, the truck will still travel almost two football fields before it will completely stop.

It is also important to understand that trucks need more room to make a turn or merge into traffic. Motorists who think they can make it past a tractor trailer are putting themselves and others at risk of serious injury.

Despite all the precautions motorists take, trucking accidents in San Francisco can still occur due to negligence from a trucker or trucking company. Victims of such actions should discuss their options with a knowledgeable attorney.

truck, accident, California