We all have to drive behind 18-wheelers, or alongside them, on a major highway at one time or another. Many of us become quite nervous when passing them, driving behind them, driving alongside them, or driving in front of them. The fact is, we should be a bit nervous because tractor-trailer accidents happen more often than we would like to think.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 100,000 people were injured and nearly 4,000 killed in accidents involving large trucks in 2012. On average, there are 912 crashes a day in which large trucks are involved.

There are several things you can do to stay safe around these over-sized monsters. I encourage you to remember these helpful tips while sharing the roadways with tractor trailers:

  1. Give truckers lots of room! Being close to a semi is a terrible idea because they frequently have tire blowouts. Semi tires are like ticking time bombs because they support a tremendous amount of weight. If you are right next to a semi, the rubber shards from the blown tire can come flying at your car, causing you to lose control. Also, trucks tend to swerve when this happens.
  2. Did you know that when trucks are not loaded with materials or products, they are very difficult for drivers to control in heavy winds? In a wind storm, empty trucks can become somewhat like sailboats, and can actually be blown over, or into your lane. If you’re too close, the truck could roll over on your car, or swerve into your lane, causing a crash, and maybe a serious injury or death. Avoid driving near them whenever possible!
  3. Trucks have an unbelievable amount of blind spots. It is always safer to pass a truck on its left side because there are fewer blind spots. Hurry up to get ahead of the truck, and don’t linger by its side. After passing, do not jump in front of the truck. It can take a large truck the length of three football fields to come to a complete stop from 60 mph. Give them more room than you give a normal passenger vehicle.


Trucks make WIDE turns.

Cars cutting onto the side of a semi as it is making a turn is one of the largest forms of accidents involving trucks. This is especially true when a truck is making right turns. During a turn, the only thing a trucker can see is his trailer. By the time he knows you’re there, it’s too late.

Always practice safe driving around semi trucks. This is not a time to speed up or be in a hurry, and it’s never a good idea to linger beside them. Be a defensive driver at all times, but especially around these huge, heavy vehicles. Safe travels!