How to Drive Around Trucks and Avoid an Accident

Large commercial trucks are particularly abundant on most Tennessee roadways. However, accidents involving these vehicles can be particularly severe for those inside traditional passenger vehicles involved. It is crucial to take the steps necessary to remain safe when operating on the roadway around larger commercial trucks.

Use Your Defensive Driving Skills

Defensive driving is critical when it comes to operating your vehicle around a larger commercial truck. Defensive driving is always important, but we encourage you to reinforce your driving skills when these larger vehicles are around. Some important defensive driving techniques to remember any time you are on the roadway and operating around these larger vehicles include:

  • Stay focused and attentive while driving, avoiding distractions such as mobile phones.
  • Keep a safe following distance between your vehicle and the one in front to allow for sufficient reaction time.
  • Anticipate potential hazards and be prepared to react quickly.
  • Observe and obey all traffic laws, including speed limits and traffic signals.
  • Check mirrors and blind spots regularly to be aware of surrounding vehicles and potential dangers.
  • Use turn signals and communicate your intentions to other drivers.
  • Be cautious at intersections, even when you have the right of way.
  • Adjust your driving to current weather and road conditions, including reducing speed if necessary.
  • Watch out for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists, giving them ample space and right of way when required.
  • Avoid aggressive driving behaviors, such as tailgating or excessive speeding.
  • Stay calm and maintain composure, even in frustrating situations.
  • Be aware of fatigue and take breaks when needed to stay alert.
  • Regularly maintain your vehicle’s brakes, tires, lights, and other essential components.
  • Continuously scan the road ahead for potential hazards or changes in traffic patterns.
  • Be prepared for unexpected actions by other drivers and adjust your driving accordingly.
  • Stay informed about local traffic laws and regulations to ensure compliance.

Avoiding the No-Zones

When we examine information available from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the agency primarily responsible for regulating larger commercial trucks, we see the importance of staying out of the so-called “No Zones.”

A “No Zone” is a blind spot around the larger commercial truck. These blind spots are right in front of the truck, just to the rear of the vehicle, and along each side of the vehicle. It is important for drivers to do their best to stay out of these areas of the larger commercial truck. The general rule of thumb is that if you cannot see the truck driver in the truck’s side mirror, then you need to assume that the driver cannot see you either. Drivers in traditional vehicles are encouraged to slow down or move ahead of the truck in order to stay visible.

Watch out for Wide Turns

Larger commercial trucks and buses need more space when turning. These vehicles will swing wide, or they may even begin a turn from a middle lane as opposed to the lane closest to the direction they want to turn. If you see a larger commercial truck with its turn signal on, never try to get in between them and the direction they wish to turn. In particular, do not get in between the vehicle and a curb or any obstacle on the side of the road. This could lead to a significant accident, particularly if your vehicle gets crushed in between the truck and a curb or another obstacle.

Pass Large Trucks Safely

If you have to pass a larger commercial truck, you should do so on the left and carefully. Drivers should use their turn signal, change to the lane to the left of the truck, and use a reasonable speed to get ahead of the truck. Drivers are encouraged not to change lanes right in front of the truck as soon as they pass, but rather, they should wait until they get a decent distance in front of the truck before engaging their turn signal and changing back into their desired lane.

Keep Your High Beams Off

Most drivers generally know to keep their high beams off when there is oncoming traffic. Additionally, drivers should not have their high beams on if there is a vehicle right in front of them, as these high beams can blind drivers in other types of traditional vehicles.

It is important to understand that high beams can also affect commercial truck drivers. Even though these drivers sit higher off of the roadway, their mirrors are still positioned in such a way that they can see other vehicles around them. If you have on your high beams, this can significantly affect a truck driver’s ability to see. If you are operating behind or beside a larger truck, or if you see a larger commercial truck coming at you from another direction, we encourage you to turn off your high beams, just as you would with other vehicles.

Don’t Get Distracted

Operating while distracted is incredibly dangerous. Information presented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that distracted driving can occur when a person takes their eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, or mind off of driving. There are various types of distracted driving behaviors that can significantly affect roadway safety, including talking or texting on the phone, adjusting a stereo or climate controls, talking to others in the car, reaching for objects in other seats, eating or drinking, applying makeup, and more.

To say it is important to avoid distracted driving is an understatement. This is particularly true when there are larger commercial vehicles in the vicinity. We encourage every driver on the roadway to minimize all distractions when they operate around larger trucks in Tennessee.

Large Truck Accident Data

During the most recent reporting year in Tennessee, there were more than 12,000 accidents involving large trucks. The data shows that approximately one out of every 14 motor vehicle collisions in Tennessee during that reporting year involved a larger commercial vehicle. Unfortunately, one out of every six traffic collision fatalities that year involved a larger truck.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident, our Nashville truck accident lawyers can help.