Collisions involving large commercial vehicles and smaller passenger automobiles occur all too often in Louisiana, and they frequently result in serious injuries or death for the drivers and passengers of the lighter vehicles. According to the Louisiana Department of Public Safety, the occupants of these smaller vehicles suffer 78 percent of the traffic-related deaths due to such accidents. Therefore, when sharing the road with large trucks, it is important for drivers to follow certain safety practices to help avoid potentially serious, or deadly, trucking crashes.
Perhaps the most important action for drivers to take when sharing the road with tractor-trailers and other such commercial vehicles is to allow them extra room. These large trucks require more room to maneuver and they need a significantly greater distance than smaller, passenger cars in order to stop safely. Providing semitrailers a cushion of safety gives them the time and distance needed to avoid colliding with the vehicles in front of them if they are forced to suddenly slow or stop.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, passing safely is another action that drivers can take to help avoid trucking accidents. When attempting such a maneuver, drivers should signal their intentions clearly and pass large commercial vehicles without lingering. It is important that motorists can see the truck operators in their vehicle mirrors before starting their move, and that the trucks are visible in their rearview mirrors after they pull in front of them. The FMCSA points out that drivers should never attempt to pass tractor-trailers from the right lane or when traveling on a downgrade.
It is also recommended that drivers stay out of semi-tractor trailers’ blind spots when they are sharing the road. These areas, which are often referred to as no zones, extend 20 feet to the front and 30 feet to the rear, as well as along the right and left sides. When they are in these blind spots, the truck operators may not be able to see people or their vehicles. Therefore, they are advised to move ahead or slow down in order to avoid driving in the no zones.