How to Drive Safely Around 18-Wheelers
According to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 102 people were killed in large truck collisions and 18-wheeler accidents in Louisiana in 2017. Across the state, 9.6% of all traffic fatalities that year involved large trucks, higher than the the national average of 8.8%.
18-wheelers with a full trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. In contrast, the average passenger car weighs less than 5,000 pounds. Although many commercial truck drivers are some of the safest drivers on the road, an accident with one of these big rigs almost never ends well for smaller vehicles.
Knowing how to drive safely around 18-wheelers in Louisiana can mean the difference between getting to your destination safely and being involved in a life-altering and potentially deadly accident. Learn what you need to know about avoiding 18-wheeler accidents in Louisiana with this handy guide from Mike Brandner Injury Attorneys.
Have you been injured in an 18-wheeler accident in Louisiana? Contact a professional New Orleans truck accident lawyer at our law firm today.
Driving Around 18-Wheelers: The Basics
There are four crucial rules of thumb for those sharing the road with 18-wheelers or other large trucks. Keep these in mind to prevent 18-wheeler accidents in Louisiana:
- 18-wheelers require more time and more distance to come to a stop. Many drivers of passenger vehicles don’t understand how the sheer size of an 18-wheeler affects its ability to stop quickly. Truck drivers cannot slow down as quickly as smaller vehicles, nor can they stop on a dime. Always keep this in mind when passing an 18-wheeler or being passed by a large truck.
- It takes more time to pass an 18-wheeler than a passenger vehicle. If you’re passing an 18-wheeler, drivers must take into account how long it will take to make the pass safely, without putting the 18-wheeler or other vehicles at risk of an accident.
- 18-wheelers need more space than other cars. Maneuvering an 80,000 pound vehicle is no small feat and requires much more space than a passenger vehicle. Be sure to always give truck drivers a wide berth whenever possible.
- Big rigs have bigger blind spots. Many New Orleans truck crashes occur because smaller vehicles drive in a truck driver’s blind spots. Know which blind spots to stay out of — if you can’t see the truck driver, they likely cannot see you!
What Should You Do When Passing a Truck?
Firstly, when attempting to pass an 18-wheeler, always keep your speed constant and safe. If passing requires you to break the posted speed limit, wait to pass until you can complete the maneuver without having to speed.
In contrast, you don’t want to pass a truck too slowly, either. Don’t linger directly beside a large truck for any longer than necessary, since they may not be able to see you. Keep the cab of the 18-wheeler in your field of vision using your rear view and side mirrors to ensure that you’re giving the truck driver enough space before you begin merging.
What Is a Safe Following Distance for 18-Wheelers?
A safe following distance between you and the 18-wheeler should be at least one car length for every 10 miles per hour of your current speed of travel.
For example, if you’re traveling at the posted speed limit of 65 miles per hour on Interstate 10, you should allow an 18-wheeler 6.5 car lengths of space between you and the front of the cab. The average car length is around 14 feet, meaning you should give the 18-wheeler at least 91 feet of distance before completing a pass.
Once you’ve completed the pass, do not brake suddenly or quickly. Check before you pass an 18-wheeler that there is room between the truck and any cars already in front of it to avoid having to brake immediately after passing.
Can You Ever Pass a Truck on the Right Side?
You should always pass a truck on the left. Passing on the left allows truck drivers to see you in their side mirrors for the longest period of time, decreasing the chance of an accident.
Although it is technically legal in the state of Louisiana to pass a vehicle on the right on a multi-lane highway, the Louisiana Revised Statutes states that passing on the right is only acceptable “under conditions permitting such movement in safety.”
Bonus Tip: Remember to always change lanes when possible if you are approaching a stationary vehicle with flashing lights, including emergency vehicles and tow trucks. If you cannot change lanes safely, slow down and come to a stop in accordance with Louisiana’s move over law.
How Many Blind Spots Does a Truck Have?
Big rigs have four major blind spots in front, on the side, and behind them. This means that staying out of a truck driver’s blind spots is imperative in order to prevent 18-wheeler accidents in Louisiana. Here are some of the major danger zones to avoid:
- In front of the cab: The driver may not be able to see smaller vehicles within twenty feet in front of them.
- Behind the truck: The driver may not be able to see any vehicles up to 30 feet behind them.
- On either side of the 18-wheeler: The driver may not be able to see cars driving alongside them, especially on the right side.
How Should You Drive Around Trucks in Bad Weather?
In adverse weather conditions, it’s important to take extra safety precautions when driving around 18-wheelers. A good rule of thumb is to double your following distance if the road is wet with sleet, snow, or ice.
You should also look out for more than just bad weather. Any highway conditions that diminish visibility, such as road construction or traffic congestion, are reason enough to reduce your speed and increase your following distance.
Although driving behind slower vehicles such as 18-wheelers can be frustrating when you’re in a hurry, avoid weaving in and out of traffic lanes, speeding, or engaging in other kinds of reckless driving in Louisiana.
What Should You Do After a Truck Accident?
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident even though you were driving safely around an 18-wheeler, you may be entitled to compensation. The truck accident lawyers at Mike Brandner Injury Attorneys have years of experience fighting for the legal rights of their clients who have been affected by 18-wheeler accidents in Louisiana.
For more information and a free consultation regarding your injury case, contact us at one of our convenient locations in Metairie, Hammond, and throughout Louisiana. You can reach our Southshore office by calling 504-345-1111. Our Northshore agents are standing by at (504) 345-1111 or 225-500-1111. You can also get in touch with a live representative right now using our LiveChat feature, or submit your case details anytime for a free evaluation.