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Safety Tips to Avoid Truck Accidents

colorado truck accident lawyerBig rigs help to keep our state’s economy strong. The Colorado Motor Vehicle Association reports 33% of Colorado’s federal and state roadway taxes are paid by the trucking industry. Large trucks have an imposing presence on our highways, and because of their weight and size, these commercial vehicles can significantly contribute to dangerous roadway accidents.

Negligence is dangerous

“Each Wednesday, CDOT displays the current number of fatalities for the year on message boards across the state. We hope this weekly memorial will be a wake-up call for everyone to drive more safely. Remember: It’s a person, not a number.”

At McDivitt Law Firm, we understand how catastrophic being involved in a truck accident can be for victims and their families. Preventing an accident is every driver’s responsibility, and most truck accidents are preventable. Negligence on the part of the truck driver, their employer, highway maintenance crews, or even a  part manufacturer are among the common causes of accidents. Passenger vehicle drivers have no choice in sharing the road with large trucks but driving safely is always a choice. While it’s not feasible to totally eliminate the possibility of a crash, there are steps a motorist can take to reduce the risk of being involved in a serious accident.

Here are some steps to prevent a serious accident:

STEP ONE: Recognize and Avoid “Blind Spots”

Blind spots are also called “No-Zones.” These are the areas directly in front of and behind the truck, and beside the truck’s right door. The physical size of a truck makes it virtually impossible for a truck driver to see another vehicle in these precarious areas. Do not stay in a driver’s blind spot any longer than necessary. Maintain a steady, safe speed and quickly maneuver out of the trucker’s blind spots. Keep in mind, if you cannot see the driver, or the truck’s mirrors, then they cannot see you. Stay visible, stay safe and reduce the odds of an accident.

STEP TWO:  Maintain a Safe Distance

Trucks require much longer stopping distances than passenger vehicles when traveling at the same speed – actually 20 to 40 percent more. Keep your distance and give large trucks plenty of room, both when they are in front of you, or behind your vehicle.  A semi has limited braking power. When a passenger car pulls in front of a truck, then suddenly slams on the brakes, catastrophic accidents are inevitable. 

STEP THREE:  Pass Carefully When Passing a Truck.

  • Maintain a safe speed
  • Pass on the left to maximize visibility
  • Use your directional signals
  • Remove your car from the trucker’s blind spot as quickly as possible
  • Ensure there’s enough space between your car and the truck when you merge back over
  • Remember that passing a turning truck may increase the risk of being involved in a car accident.

STEP FOUR:  Anticipate Wide Turns and Do Not Pass Trucks that are Turning

Commercial vehicles make wide turns. Tractor-trailers often have to take extra-wide turns on Colorado’s secondary roads. For example, a truck may swing left to make a right turn, and right to make a left turn. Many drivers misjudge their ability to pass a heavy, moving truck and put themselves, and their passengers, in danger by:

  • Attempting to pass a truck on the right before it turns
  • Trying to pass a truck on the left as it turns right. This maneuver places the car in a dangerous blind spot for both the turning truck and oncoming traffic.
  • Do not pass trucks that are turning
  • Leave trucks plenty of space to make wide turns
  • Reduce your speed if you see a truck with its blinker on
  • Expect a truck to turn at intersections
  • Avoid following too closely
  • Pass on the outer edge of the road

STEP FIVE:  Move over for stopped trucks

When truck drivers experience tire blowouts, load shifts, or sudden mechanical problems they are forced to stop on the side of the road. When you see those orange triangles, or flares ahead, slow down and, if possible, move over at least one lane. The driver may well be outside of his or her vehicle, and in a vulnerable position. 

STEP SIX: Avoid distracted driving

Drive predictably, consistently, and defensively and follow these truck safety tips to avoid distracted driving:

  • Remain focused and avoid anything that may divert your attention.
  • Do not use any electronic devices
  • Avoid eating while driving
  • Constantly scan the road
  • If you are drowsy, pull off the road.

“Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of accidents leading to injury and even death. Every day nine people in the U.S. die because of distracted driving.”   ~DMV.ORG~

Remember, Colorado bans all drivers from texting and driving, and except for emergencies, drivers under 18 years old may not use any mobile device while driving.

STEP SEVEN:  Follow the rules of the road

If all drivers acted predictably, we would certainly have fewer accidents. Following the rules of the road is a proven way to help reduce the likelihood of accidents and injury:

  • Pass on the left
  • Maintain a safe speed
  • Turn your blinkers on far in advance of a turn
  • Always wear a seatbelt
  • Headlights on before sunrise and after sunset, and when visibility is limited to 1,000 feet or less 

STEP EIGHT:  Yield to a Semi Trying to Change Lanes

 Although it may be tempting to try to pass a truck that is about to change lanes, it is dangerous and may actually cause an accident. Think safety first, and yield to lane changing rigs.

STEP NINE:  Have Patience

Road rage is a real problem on highways across America. Weaving through traffic, driving aggressively, and getting angry at other drivers will in all probability, get you cited for reckless driving, failure to maintain a lane, failure to signal, and disrupting traffic. Road rage solves no problems, and the fleeting feeling of false empowerment it may give you is never going to be worth the havoc and danger it may cause.

STEP TEN:  Stay Alert

The probability of a truck accident increases during inclement weather and in and around areas of roadway construction. remain vigilant.

STEP ELEVEN:  Report Unsafe Behavior

Automobile drivers who observe a truck obviously violating safety standards can help prevent potential accidents by reporting the truck driver to the local law enforcement agency.

Big truck accidents can be devastating physically, emotionally, and financially. They are among the leading causes of fatalities on our roads each year. If your family has been impacted by an accident with a commercial vehicle or 18-wheeler, contact a qualified truck accident injury attorney in Colorado to get the justice and compensation you deserve.

Call McDivitt Law Firm at 877-846-4878 for a free consultation. We understand your struggle, and we have extensive experience pursuing justice for accident victims and their families. 

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