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How to Drive Safely Around Semi-Trucks

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This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.

Reduce Your Chances of a Truck Accident

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says six of the 10 deadliest driving days occur in the summer, with July 4 and July 3 capturing the top two spots. More vehicles on the road during summer means a greater chance of an accident. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), more than 4,000 fatal accidents involving large trucks or buses occur yearly. The risk of an accident increases with these vehicles because they have significant blind spots and can’t maneuver as quickly as most cars. And because semi-trucks often weigh up to 80,000 pounds – or 40 tons of weight – it’s easy to see why a collision with a smaller, 2-ton vehicle often turns fatal.

Road Safety is Everyone’s Responsibility

Reports from the National Safety Council show a 4 percent decrease in fatal large truck crashes in 2020, but these vehicles still account for 9 percent of all deadly crashes. Even though the inherent limitations make big rigs especially dangerous in road accidents, car drivers cause 72 percent of all collisions between large trucks and passenger vehicles. Driving too fast, improper following, and failing to stay in an appropriate lane are common mistakes drivers make in fatal crashes with semis.

Distracted driving remains a real threat as the number one cause of car accidents in the United States – ahead of drunk driving, speeding, and every other danger. According to a Governors Highway Safety Association report, texting and other electronic usage cause up to 25 percent of all car crashes. And the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute reports that drivers who text while driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in a car crash.

Tips to Practice Safe Driving Habits

With 12 million large trucks and buses crowding America’s highways, passengers and drivers in cars and small vehicles must remain especially vigilant. These tips from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Our Roads, Our Safety campaign can help drivers be aware of the distinct dangers big rigs pose so everyone can share the road safely.

1: Pass safely: Make sure you can see the truck driver in the mirror before passing and pulling in front. Never pass on a downgrade or from the right lane.

2: Never drive under the influence: Alcohol and drugs impair judgment and reaction time, which is especially dangerous around enormous vehicles.

3: Don’t cut it too close: It’s not worth it to cut off a bus or truck. If you move in too quickly, you will likely be in a blind spot.

4: Don’t drive fatigued: Driving when you’re too tired can be as dangerous as being under the influence. Take regular breaks or get another driver to take over.

5: Always wear a seatbelt: Using safety belts is still one of the most important things you and passengers can do to save lives.

6: Stay back: Tailgating puts you in a blind spot, and if you fail to stop in time, your vehicle could slide under a truck.

7: Be patient: Because of their size, trucks accelerate more slowly. Driving aggressively can cause a dangerous situation.

8: Stay out of blind spots: Large trucks have blind spots on every side. If you can’t see the driver, they probably can’t see you.

9: Anticipate wide turns: Buses and trucks swing wide and may even start a turn from a middle lane. Give them plenty of distance at intersections.

10: Stay focused: Driving distracted can be fatal. Avoid eating, drinking, adjusting the radio, attending to a text, or doing anything that might take your eyes off the road.

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