6 tips to help California drivers share the road with large trucks

Sharing the road with large commercial vehicles can be dangerous, however, there are things drivers can to do help avoid trucking accidents.

All too often, motorists throughout Southern California, and elsewhere, are involved in collisions with large commercial vehicles. The effects of such crashes are often devastating for the occupants of passenger automobiles. This is due, in large part, to the size differences between their vehicles and tractor trailers. The California Highway Patrol reports that 278 people were killed in truck accidents in 2013 alone, and more than 7,500 people were injured. While some truck-car wrecks are not avoidable, there are things that drivers can do to help share the roads safely.

Stay out of blind spots

Semitrailers, and other commercial vehicles, have large blind spots on both sides, in the front and in the rear. When people are in these areas, truckers may not be able to see them. Thus, it is advisable that motorists avoid traveling in trucks' blind spots for extended periods of time whenever possible. It is especially important for people to stay far enough behind large trucks for other drivers to see them.

Be aware of turning trucks

Particularly when making a left turn, large trucks may need to cross the center line. Additionally, truckers may initially maneuver their vehicles to the right to give themselves ample space to complete a left turn. Therefore, drivers should pay attention to tractor trailers' signals, not just their movements. This may help them avoid being struck by such vehicles, which could result in serious injuries.

Refrain from passing trucks while they are turning

Since commercial vehicles may intrude across lanes while turning, it is also recommended that motorists refrain from attempting to pass trucks while they are turning. Additionally, drivers might find it beneficial to back their vehicles up, or to pull them closer to the curb, when stopped at intersections where large trucks are turning into oncoming lanes. Doing so may allow the truck enough room to turn safely.

Watch out for turbulence

Due to their size, tractor trailers often create air turbulence, particularly when traveling at high rates of speed. These wind gusts may cause unprepared motorists to lose control of their vehicles. Thus, it is suggested that motorists keep firm control of their steering wheels when they are passing oncoming commercial vehicles. This may help to counter the effects of the turbulence.

Be patient when passing

In general, it takes longer to pass large trucks than it does to pass the average-sized passenger vehicle. It is important for people to understand this, and to ensure there is plenty of clear road in front of them before attempting to pass a semitrailer. Furthermore, it is recommended that drivers allow themselves enough room to return to their lanes in case there is an oncoming hazard.

Avoid suddenly slowing or stopping

According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, it can take the average car up to 400 feet to stop when traveling at 55 mph. For large trucks that are driving at the same speed, however, it may take up to 800 feet to stop safely. Consequently, drivers should avoid cutting in front of tractor trailers and suddenly slowing or stopping in order to avoid potentially serious collisions.

Work with an attorney

Californians who are injured in trucking accidents often require extensive medical treatment and care. As a result, they may require time off of work to recover and incur undue expenses. The truckers responsible for causing such crashes, however, may be held responsible for their lost wages, and other damages. In such situations, people may find it of benefit to seek legal guidance. An attorney may help them to understand their options for seeking financial compensation.