How can motorists stay safe around big rigs in PA?

Motorists who drive safe around tractor trailers may be able to decrease the likelihood of becoming involved in a large truck accident.

Drivers in Pittsburgh and across the state know that sharing the road with tractor trailers can be intimidating. While some motorists don't give a second thought to driving alongside these massive vehicles, people are encouraged to be extremely cautious when navigating around large trucks. The large truck fatality rate in the U.S. has increased significantly, from 3,211 deaths in 2009 to 3,906 fatalities in 2013, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2013, large truck accidents took the lives of 170 people in Pennsylvania alone. In order to minimize the risk of being involved in a deadly tractor trailer collision, motorists should follow certain safe driving practices around big rigs.

Things to remember

People should keep in mind that large trucks handle differently than regular sized motor vehicles. For example, big rigs need a longer distance and more time to slow down and come to a stop when compared to smaller cars. When a motorist pulls out in front of a truck and applies his or her brakes, the truck may not have enough time or space to brake properly and could rear-end the vehicle. Trucks also need enough space to make wide turns. When motorists pull up in the inside lane next to a truck, the truck driver may not have adequate room to complete his or her turn.

While all cars have blind spots, tractor trailers have blind spots that are significantly larger than other vehicles. Motorists that are driving on the right-hand side or in back of a big rig should understand that the trucker is probably unable to see them. Drivers may want to speed up and pass the truck on the left-hand side in order to avoid a possible collision. Tractor trailers also have blind spots on the left-hand side and directly in front of the truck.

Truckers may have an especially hard time operating their big rigs in bad weather conditions, such as snow, ice, heavy wind, rain and fog. Speeding, drowsy, distracted or otherwise negligent truck drivers could encounter a situation where their truck may slip, skid, tip over or jack-knife, putting your life in danger.

Safe driving practices

Since you cannot control whether the trucker or motorist next to you is driving safely, it is crucial that you practice extreme caution when driving next to these vehicles. If you should become the victim of a large truck accident in Pennsylvania, it may be helpful to contact an attorney and discuss your legal options.