How to Avoid Accidents when Passing Semi Trucks and Big Rigs

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic, 75 percent of all trucking accidents are caused by the driver of a passenger automobile. Many of these accidents occur while passing a semi truck, as many motorists do not use the proper techniques when doing so. Here are some tips you can use to ensure your safety on the highway.

Passing Techniques

Make sure you have plenty of room in which to pass. Once your lane is clear, use your turn signal and then maneuver your vehicle as far to the edge of the road as possible. Grip the wheel firmly with both hands, and maintain a steady yet constant speed. Do not travel alongside the semi truck, but instead stay next to it only as long as necessary in order to pass. Make sure you can clearly see the tractor trailer’s headlights in your rear view mirror before pulling in front of it. You run the risk of being rear-ended if you pull directly in front of the semi truck, since semis require far more distance to stop in.

Be Mindful of Semi Truck Blind Spots

Big Rig Trucks have larger blind spots than cars do, which is why you should always be mindful of them when passing. A good rule of thumb is that if you can’t see the truck’s mirrors, the driver also can’t see you.

A tractor-trailer’s blind spots are:

  • Along its right front quarter
  • Near the left rear quarter
  • Directly behind the vehicle

The blind spot is also much bigger on the right side of the truck, so avoid passing to the right if at all possible. If passing on the right is necessary, allow yourself at least one extra car length to do so. Never pass a truck that is stopped, because it may be getting ready to turn. A truck that is turning right will need to swerve slightly into the left lane first, and may not see you coming alongside it.

Things to Avoid

When passing semis, you should also:

  • Avoid texting or other distractions.
  • Dim your headlights, as bright lights are reflected into a truck’s mirrors and can easily blind the driver.
  • Make sure you are not in one of the truck’s blind spots before beginning to pass.
  • Use proper signals.
  • Avoid passing in fog or other conditions that cause poor visibility.
  • Be mindful of wind. Trucks can create turbulence that can cause you to lose control of your vehicle when conditions are especially windy.

Passing a semi truck requires a great more attention to detail than normal. If you exercised the right precautions, yet were an accident victim anyway, filing a personal injury lawsuit might be necessary if you are to recover damages. A trucking accident attorney can assess your case and advise you on how to proceed in order to ensure the most successful outcome possible.