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Drive defensively when semi-trucks are on the road

Unfortunately, as highways and freeways support increasing traffic, more semi-truck accidents occur. On November 22, 2018, a horrific accident happened around 2 a.m. on Interstate 405 in Costa Mesa, California. It was dark and raining, and driving conditions were treacherous. 

A Fiat carrying four young male passengers hit a stalled car. A Freightliner big rig driver traveling at freeway speed could not see the darkened Fiat or the stalled car behind it. He crashed head-on into the Fiat. A young man in the Fiat died. Medics rushed four other men to the hospital; they each had severe injuries.

Are semi-truck accidents increasing?

Statistics show that over the past decade, accidents involving semi trucks have sharply increased. According to an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatalities from large truck crashes surpassed the highest level in 30 years in 2017. The numbers are the same as if two 737 airplanes crashed per month, killing every passenger.

How can drivers avoid semi-truck accidents? 

Remember at all times that semi-trucks are not passenger cars. They are transport vehicles that can weigh 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. Passenger vehicles weigh around 4,000 pounds. The odds are not promising for the lighter vehicles. These suggestions may reduce deadly collisions between passenger vehicles and semi-trucks:

  • Blind spots surround the entire truck body, including the front and rear. A third of fatal crashes occur in a truck's blind spots. If you cannot see the driver in his or her truck mirror, the driver cannot see you. The worst and significantly largest blind spot on a big rig is the right side. It can cover several lanes on a freeway. If possible, never pass a truck on the right.
  • Never cut in front of a transport truck. It is tempting because trucks can move slower than other vehicles. Trucks take 40 percent longer to brake to a stop than cars. An impatient person in a Jeep zips around a slow-moving truck and darts in front of it, then slows down and signals to turn left. The unfortunate driver is about to find out how long it takes a truck to stop.
  • Always leave plenty of room behind a truck, and do not pull in front of a big rig until you can see both headlights of the large truck in your rearview mirror. Never pull in front of a semi-truck when approaching a stop sign, stop light, construction zone or other areas where traffic may suddenly slow or behave erratically. 

Be patient and drive defensively. You can safely wait a few minutes behind a slower truck rather than risk an unscheduled trip to the hospital.

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