Whether you’re driving on James Madison, 229 or Lee Highway, semi trucks and trailers are a constant sight. Over a million trucks cross Virginia on a yearly basis, which makes driving next to one a common occurrence. Unfortunately, along with the amount of trucks on the road comes an increased amount of truck accidents in Virginia.

Over 300,000 accidents a year are a result of careless driving in, around, and near heavy semi trucks. According to the Federal Motor carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), truck accidents have been steadily increasing over the past decade by nearly 20 percent.

How to Drive Defensively to Avoid Truck Accidents

Semi trucks, tractor-trailers, and other large vehicles are notoriously hard to maneuver, adjust, and brake in emergency situations. Therefore, when a truck must stop, swerve, or move quickly, the chance that the entire rig may roll-over, jackknife, or skid is immeasurably increased. However, you can help decrease these accidents while protecting yourself and family by driving defensively and cautiously around trucks and large vehicles. These tips will help.

  • Remember that if you can’t see a truck’s side mirror, than the trucker can’t see you.
  • Keep at least two car lengths between you and the truck at all times.
  • Do not attempt to pass a truck on the right or before he changes lanes; he may not see you nor be able to adjust his speed to compensate for your passing.
  • When approaching on-ramps next to a truck, be aware of the on-ramp traffic. If a car is trying to merge, make sure you allow room for the truck to move over if necessary. Just because you’re in the left lane doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay attention to on-ramps and traffic in the right. Although you may not think onramp traffic is your concern, since it’s the truck that has to adjust, if the trucker doesn’t see you in the left lane and has to move over, you’re the one who could be in danger.
  • Remember to be cautious and respectful of other drivers, even if it’s for your own safety.
  • Be extremely cautious when approaching semis in intersections. Make sure you see them and they see you.
  • It’s much harder for a semi to adjust speed than it is for you. If an adjustment has to be made, do it yourself rather than waiting for the truck driver; not only will it be safer, but probably faster and less stressful as well.
  • The safest way to drive around trucks is to make sure that they don’t have to readjust their speeds or trajectory because of you. You can drastically decrease the potential for a truck collision and make it easier for truckers to stay on the road by driving defensively and respectfully.

Unfortunately, no matter how safely or defensively you’re driving, you can’t control the actions of others. Therefore, if other drivers (truckers or not) don’t know or refuse to follow the proper truck safety guidelines, you and your family could be at risk for a serious accident. Don’t allow ignorance to hurt your family; help us spread the word by sharing this page on Facebook, Twitter or at work to raise awareness about truck safety.

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Andrew Thomas
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Civil litigation attorney in Virginia and is AV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell.
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