Avoiding trucking accidents: Tips to share Texas roads safely

Trucking collisions resulting in serious injuries or death are common, but there are steps drivers can take to help safely share the roads with truckers.

Each day, people in San Antonio, and across Texas, share the roads with tractor-trailers. Unfortunately, collisions involving these large commercial vehicles and smaller passenger vehicles commonly occur, often resulting in serious injuries or death for those involved. In fact, there were 77,000 large trucks involved in injury crashes, and more than 3,800 involved in fatal collisions, in 2012 alone. Many times, it is the occupants of the other vehicles who suffer serious injuries or death in such accidents. There are steps that drivers can take, however, to help them safely share the road with large trucks.

Avoid distractions

Perhaps the most important thing that motorists can do to reduce their risk of being involved in a car-truck accident is to avoid distractions while driving. This includes talking on the phone, sending or reading text messages, and even talking to passengers in their vehicles. Staying focused on the task of driving, keeping their hands on the steering wheel and keeping their eyes on the road may help people to better react to changes in the driving conditions.

Be aware of large trucks' limitations

Many people do not realize that semitrailers do not handle and operate the same as smaller, passenger vehicles. However, it takes a significantly longer distance for these large trucks to safely slow and stop. Additionally, they typically require additional space to maneuver. For example, 18-wheelers must often swing out wide to the left in order to make safe right turns. As such, it is important for drivers to allow large trucks a wider berth than they may allow other vehicles.

Practice safe passing

When passing vehicles, people often cut back in as soon as they are able. This is not a safe passing practice, however, when sharing the road with tractor-trailers. If a motorist cuts in front of a large truck and must stop or slow suddenly, the trucker vehicle may not have the time or distance needed to stop his or her vehicle safely. This could result in a rear-end collision, which could have potentially devastating consequences. Therefore, the Texas Department of Transportation recommends that drivers allow at least four car lengths between the rear of their vehicles and the front of any semitrailers they pass.

Stay out of the no zones

Like many vehicles, tractor-trailers have blind spots. Due to their large size, however, these areas are much larger for these types of vehicles. Located in the front and the rear, as well as on both sides, it is advisable for other motorists to stay out of these so-called no zones. When in a truck's blind spots, vehicles may disappear from the trucker's view, which could lead to a serious semitrailer collision.

Consult with an attorney

When people in Texas are injured in trucking accidents, they often require medical treatment. In some cases, they may also need extended time off of work to recover from their injuries. This may lead to medical expenses and lost income, which can make an already difficult time more challenging. Depending on the circumstances, however, the trucker who caused the crash, or the trucking company, may be held liable for the resulting damages. As such, those who have experienced situations such as this may benefit from seeking legal guidance and representation.