If you’re traveling this summer, you’re likely to see many 18-wheelers on the road. These trucks are vital for transporting goods across the country, but they can be dangerous. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration tracks deaths related to large truck accidents. In 2016, FMCSA documented 4,074 fatal crashes involving large trucks. That figure rose by 3 percent from the year before.
While there is no way to eliminate semi-truck accidents, there are steps you can take to minimize your risks. Here are just a few:
Stay focused. Long drives get monotonous, and you may be tempted to text, answer your smartphone, or even doze off on the open road. Refrain from doing anything that diverts your attention from driving; there’s too much at stake. If you feel yourself getting sleepy, pull off the road and take a brief cat nap. After all, driving while drowsy can be just as dangerous as driving while drunk. When you encounter a big rig, pay attention. If it is weaving in and out of lanes, stay away from it. If you see the driver, make sure that he or she looks alert. Even professionals can fall asleep behind the wheel.
Pass quickly. If you need to pass an 18-wheeler, be fast about it. It’s very difficult for drivers of large trucks to see cars that are trying to pass them. The last place you want to be stuck is in a driver’s blind spot.
Give yourself a distance “cushion.” Stay a safe distance in front of or behind trucks. Remember that big trucks are prone to tire blowouts. Cars only have four tires to worry about, but big rigs could have 18 or more. The last thing you want to do is to get so close to a truck that you get pelted by shrapnel from a tire blowout. In addition, your car may be able to stop on a dime, but 18-wheelers can’t. If you pull in front of a truck and slam on your brakes, you can expect dire consequences.
Buckle up. Don’t underestimate the power of seatbelts; they can mean the difference between life and death. The impact from a semi-truck accident could send passengers slamming into a door or window or flying into the front seat. Don’t leave your garage or driveway until everyone in the car is buckled up.