You can’t drive anywhere on the nation’s highways without seeing them – they‘re the 18-wheeler big rigs. They’re big, they’re imposing, and they’re aggravating when they use their intimidating size to bully their way in front of you at a slower speed. But, most of all, they can be dangerous. Even deadly. And, car insurance companies are well aware that the statistics involving injuries and death are rising every year as more big rig drivers take the roads.
When sharing the roads with these huge tractor-trailers, you need to use a certain amount of care and common sense. Messing with one of these “big boys”, from any angle, can not only change the physical appearance of your car, but it could also mean life-changing injuries or worse…death.
To put things in clearer perspective, let’s say you drive a new Toyota Prius. According to Toyota, the Prius is approximately 175.6 inches or 14.6 feet long. Meanwhile, although the average length of an 18-wheeler can vary greatly depending on the type of cab and number of trailers being pulled, the average is 70-80 feet. And, if that’s not enough for you, imagine the legal weight of an 18-wheeler is a hefty 80,000 pounds while the Prius weighs in at a mere 4,000. Do the math. That’s a 40-ton to 2-ton ratio. Needless to say, those are not fair odds.
That’s why whenever you’re out driving and you find yourself having a “too close for comfort” encounter with a big rig, whether it be alongside, in front, or in back, remember those odds and give them plenty of room. Do not shadow an 18- wheeler as many drivers do by pacing them in an adjacent lane. Under heavy loads, single- and double-trailer rigs often drift from side to side and can even cross into your lane, side swiping your vehicle. They can have a devastating blowout and lose control. Furthermore, in emergency braking situations, they are terribly unstable and run a high percentage chance of jack-knifing and sweeping everything in their wake along with them.
In all fairness, big rig accidents are not always the fault of their drivers. Finger pointing is easy if we don’t understand the ins and outs of driving and maneuvering such large trucks. Automobile drivers create dangerous conditions by cutting off the rigs in traffic, forcing the driver to brake hard or swerve with potentially deadly consequences. Common courtesy and patience go a long way in making it possible for passenger vehicles and 18-wheelers to coexist on our highways.
So, for both your and your family’s safety, follow these rules of the road to reduce the possibility of injury and damage to your vehicle.
- Avoid distractions by not texting or using your phone on a busy highway full of big rigs (if you must use your phone, you should only use a hands-free phone). This way you can be aware of any possible hazardous situation forming in front of you, giving you enough time to react.
- Never keep pace or drive side-by-side with an 18-wheeler. Large trucks have an equally large blind spot which can cause them to accidentally hit you because they can’t see you when changing lanes or turning.
- Keep your eyes open. If you notice a truck’s turn signal, remember they need all the space they can get. Drop back and give them the room. DO NOT pass a truck if it’s turning. A 14- foot tall, 40-ton high-profile vehicle has a tendency to easily topple over and crush a smaller vehicle.
- Never tailgate an 18-wheeler. Because truck drivers sit much higher than the normal passenger car, they see things before you do. Stay back at least 100 feet or more, in case the truck driver has to brake suddenly, so you can react in time to avoid rear-ending the truck. In addition, debris from a blown-out tire is less likely to smash through your windshield.
- In bad weather such as rain, fog, etc., keep in mind that driving isn’t only a challenge for you. It becomes doubly difficult for big rigs. Give them plenty of extra room and signal lane changes.
- Consider the terrain. On downgrades, if you notice a big rig closing in on you, move out of the way. If they’re sharing your lane, change lanes and give them the space. DO NOT stay alongside them for any length of time. Speed up or let them pass and pull back to a safe distance.By following these simple tips and being aware, you’ll feel more comfortable sharing the nation’s highways and roads with your counterpart…the 18-wheelers…with increased safety. Speaking of being aware, is your car insurance up to date?
Have you ever had a run in with a big rig? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.