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Drivers: Tips to stay safe around semi-trucks

Sharing the road with other cars, cyclists and pedestrians is often overwhelming in and of itself. When gigantic semi-trucks are in the mix, it can be more stressful - and even frightening.

Unfortunately, it is common to see news stories of semi-trucks jackknifing or tipping over on busy highways, leading to catastrophic accidents. Even though truck drivers must maintain high standards of safety, North Carolina drivers can take it into their own hands to stay safe when driving near these large trucks.

1. Give trucks as much space as possible

Since trucks are so large, they need more time and space to brake. Their size also requires them to take wide turns that might cross into other lanes.

Steering clear of large trucks and giving them space has many benefits, including:

  • Giving both drivers time to react to hazards;
  • Reducing drivers' stress when driving near large trucks; and
  • Ensuring that truck drivers can see surrounding vehicles.

2. Be aware of their blind spots

Another reason to give trucks plenty of space is that trucks' blind spots are much larger than those of other vehicles. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) calls these blind spots "No Zones." These zones take up a lot of space around the vehicle, including:

  • 20 feet in front of the cab;
  • 30 feet behind the trailer; and
  • Beside the truck.

As a general rule, if drivers can see the truck's mirror, then the truck driver should be able to see them as well. When in doubt, drivers should assume that a truck driver cannot see them.

Knowing where the blind spots are and staying out of them can help drivers ensure they are visible to the truck driver and avoid dangerous situations.

3. Stay focused on the task at hand

In the age of technology, distractions behind the wheel are becoming a significant problem that drivers face every day on the road.

Drivers should always ensure they avoid all distractions while driving, but they should be especially careful to do so when around truck drivers. Unfortunately, semi-trucks can be unpredictable. Driving defensively and maintaining concentration can help drivers stay safe around trucks, no matter the situation.

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