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Improving traffic safety: Sharing California roads with large trucks

As a result of trucking accidents, people may be seriously injured or killed, but there are things that motorists can do to help ensure their safety.

The California Highway Patrol reports that there were more than 200 fatal and over 5,000 injury truck accidents across the state in 2013 alone. Due to the size differences between commercial trucks and passenger vehicles, it is often the occupants of the smaller vehicles who are injured or killed in such crashes. Although some trucking collisions are unavoidable, there are some things that drivers can do to help safely share California roads with these large vehicles.

Watch for turn signals

Commercial vehicles have different turn paths than smaller cars and trucks. As a result, their rear wheels follow a shorter path than their front wheels. Consequently, truckers must swing wide in order to make right-hand turns, which may make it appear that they are turning left and not right. In order to avoid being struck by turning tractor trailers, it is advisable that motorists do not anticipate a turn based on what a truck appears to be doing. Rather, they should look at 18-wheelers’ turn signals before attempting to pass. If a commercial truck has its turn signal on and is indicating that it is turning right, you should never attempt to pass on the right side regardless of how much room there appears to be.

Stay out of blind spots

While commercial trucks have larger mirrors and are taller than other vehicles, their operators do not see the road better. There are large blind spots on both sides, in the front and in the rear of these vehicles. If drivers are in these blind spots, the truckers may not see them. Thus, they may be unable to take action to avoid dangerous situations that may arise on the road. Therefore, it is advisable that motorists avoid lingering in large trucks’ blind spots for too long.

Avoid sudden stops

According to the California Driver Handbook, it takes up to 800 feet for a commercial truck that is traveling 55 mph to stop safely. This is twice the distance that it takes for passenger vehicles to stop. Therefore, avoiding suddenly slowing or stopping in front of tractor trailers may help prevent some rear-end crashes, which often result in catastrophic injuries. Drivers should allow large trucks a wide berth so that their operators have plenty of room to stop and maneuver.

Do not underestimate the size and speed of large trucks

As a result of their large size, commercial trucks often appear to be traveling slower than they actually are. Consequently, drivers may not realize how close these vehicles are. If they misjudge the distance between them, motorists may attempt to turn in front of or pass tractor trailers when there is not enough time. Thus, it is advisable that people be aware that large trucks may be going faster than it seems, especially at intersections.

Working with an attorney

The injuries that people in California suffer in trucking accidents are often serious, and thus, require extensive medical treatment. This may leave them unable to work and wondering how they will pay their medical bills and day-to-day expenses. If such collisions are caused by the negligence of the truckers or trucking companies, however, they may be responsible for the resulting damages. Therefore, those who have been involved in commercial vehicle collisions should seek legal guidance to understand their rights.