- Avoid driving in the truck’s blind spots. There are blind spots on both sides of large trucks where your car may “disappear” from view and the trucker will not be able to see you. If possible, pass trucks on the left rather than the right, where the blind spot is smaller.
- Watch brake lights. When sharing the highway with a big rig, pay close attention to its brake lights and signals and act accordingly.
- Don’t follow too close to a tractor trailer. If you are following a semi truck, leave ample following distance in front of you. The truck driver has a blind spot behind the trailer. As a rule, if you can’t see the driver’s side view mirrors, the driver can’t see you.
- Don’t be intimidated if a truck driver is tailgating. The law requires a tractor trailer to allow 400 feet between the truck and the vehicle it is following. That rarely happens, and as a result trucks run over cars or force them off the road. If a tractor trailer is following close behind you, slow down. By increasing the distance between you and the car in front of you, you are creating a buffer in the event any vehicle stops suddenly, has a blowout, or goes out of control.
- Never cut in front of any vehicle – especially a semi truck. Remember that semi trucks require a greater stopping distance. If you force a semi truck to stop quickly, a serious accident could result.
- Watch out for the “squeeze play.” Semi truck drivers need to swing wide to the left in order to negotiate a right turn. When truck drivers make wide right turns, they can’t see smaller vehicles directly behind or beside them. Never get between the truck and a curb, or you may be in a “squeeze” and suffer serious injuries.
- Use caution on entrance ramps. A 70-ton truck cannot stop or slow down quickly. When entering a roadway, be sure to allow plenty of space for an approaching commercial truck.
- Use extra caution when passing a large truck. After you pass a large truck, do not pull your car back into its traffic lane until you can see its headlights in your rear view mirror. Leaving this extra distance gives the truck driver the time to slow down or stop if something is happening on the highway ahead.
- Use extra caution at night and in poor weather. When visibility is poor, all drivers on the road should use extra caution, slow down, and increase alertness. To ensure your vehicle can be seen check your head lights and tail lights, and see that your windows and the lights are clean and clear.
- Report dangerous truck driver behavior. If you observe a commercial truck exceeding the speed limit, driving erratically, driving without proper equipment, or driving aggressively, and if it is safe to do so, note the registration numbers on the vehicle. A phone call or letter detailing the time, place, and behavior may prevent a future accident.
For more information, please see the following related page on our website:
Tractor Trailer Accidents
Facts About large truck accident s
Vehicle Accidents FAQs
The Coalition for Commercial Truck Safety
Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)