When looking to merge on a multi-lane road, the first thing you look for is a gap. You need space to get in, and you try to adjust your vehicle to the flow of traffic, signal, and then move into the gap. Seems easy, right? So what is the extra space in front of a large truck meant for?
Unfortunately, when driving around big rigs and semi trucks, it’s not that simple. Drivers often make mistakes due to their experience driving around other small passenger vehicles. This can lead to accidents.
Why Should You Leave an Extra Space in Front of a Large Truck?
When driving around trucks, drivers need to understand that the safety rules are a bit different. If they do not act like these 80,000-pound vehicles are larger and heavier than the rest of the traffic around them, it can cause accidents.
Avoid Cutting Off Semi Trucks
For instance, one of the most important rules to follow is to always avoid cutting off a truck. Passing itself is not a problem, but only do it when you have plenty of space. Never dart in front of the truck right before a red light, for instance, and then hit the brakes.
It may appear that you have enough room, but the truck driver was actually keeping that open space in front of them on purpose, as they need extra space to stop. If you put your car in the way and hit the brakes, the driver may have no way to avoid you.
Now, most people know full well that it’s a bad idea to cut anyone off on the road, but they still do it because they’re in a hurry or they’re unaware. Sometimes, they just assume that other people can hit the brakes and avoid them; even knowing that it may be annoying, they opt to do that so that they can get into traffic.
Taking this same mindset with a truck is incredibly dangerous. The size and weight make a huge difference in the vehicle’s handling, and something that may be safe around a passenger car could lead to a bad accident.
Stopping Distances for Large Trucks
Trucking experts note that you should not move into the gap in front of a semi, even if it’s 300 feet wide and looks like an ideal space. Trucks have massive stopping distances compared to small cars. The driver has left such a big gap that they can stop safely in an emergency. If you drive into it, they no longer have room to stop, and you put yourself in serious danger.
Of course, the other side is also true: Truck drivers must leave enough space to stop safely. When they don’t, they can cause serious crashes, and that’s when you need to know how to seek compensation.
What Affects Stopping Distances for Large Trucks?
Stopping distances depend on things like:
- Road conditions
- Brake conditions
- Road grade
- Truck weight
- Truck speed
If the truck driver knows that they need extra space, it’s wise to respect that. They know what variables impact their stopping distance, such as the cargo they’re carrying and the way it was loaded.
What to Do If You’re Injured By A Large Truck
That said, it is up to truck drivers to maintain safe following distances at all times. If a driver does not do that — maybe they’re in a hurry, rushing and driving too close to your car — they could cause an accident that otherwise would have been avoided.
If you suffer injuries in that accident, be sure you know how to seek compensation for your injuries and losses. It can be difficult to fight a big trucking company alone, so think about asking for experienced assistance. An Easton truck accident lawyer at The Law Offices of Edward P. Shaughnessy can help guide you through the process.