The inherent limitations of commercial vehicles, including large blind spots and long stopping distances, make them especially dangerous when it comes to road accidents.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the nation sees around 5,000 fatal collisions that involve large trucks and buses each year. While motorists often consider big rigs the bullies of the highway, reports show that 80% of car-truck crashes are actually caused by car drivers. This is due to factors including:

• Distracted driving

• Exceeding speed limits

• Failure to stay in the appropriate lane

• Not maintaining safe following distances

Most truck operators are trained professionals who share our safety concerns. In any case, it’s vital that we practice careful driving habits around 18-wheelers and other large vehicles that present unique risks. Here are the key guidelines.

Avoid Blind Spots

As we mentioned earlier, trucks have major blind spots. If you can’t see the driver in their side-view mirror, chances are that they can’t see your vehicle and you should slow down or move ahead to remain visible. The blind spot distances for a standard 18-wheeler are:

• 20 feet in front

• 30 feet behind

• 1 lane to the left

• 2 lanes to the right

It’s also important to note that the large mirrors on commercial trucks can blind the driver when you’re passing at night with bright headlights on, so be sure to dim your lights to a low-beam setting.

Be Prepared

No matter how experienced you are behind the wheel or how skilled the truck driver is, accidents can still happen. The outcome ultimately depends on your response.

It certainly helps to have proper auto insurance, as well as the contact details for a reputable truck accident attorney. You should also know how to handle the aftermath of an accident, such as limiting your interactions with other drivers and collecting ample evidence.

Personal injury attorneys Horst Shewmaker detail these steps on their blog. You can also learn about the damages that drivers can sue for in truck accidents and various other pieces of information at the Horst Shewmaker website.

Give Them Space

The size and weight of a truck far exceed that of any car, which translates to longer stopping distances. In fact, a loaded 18-wheeler driving 60 miles per hour can cross three football fields before reaching a complete halt. Another risk to be aware of is tire blowouts, as they can send heavy shards of rubber flying into nearby vehicles.

So, remember to keep a longer following distance and ensure that truck drivers can see you before passing them. Always use your turn signals and never cut off or tailgate a truck.

Reduce Distractions

Now more than ever, distracted driving is a significant problem on American roads, and it isn’t limited to smartphone usage. Eating, drinking, talking, adjusting vehicle controls and attempting to multitask are also examples of distracted driving and are all best left for when you’re stationary.

Finally, remember that trucks use extra turning room and should be given the space they need at intersections. Also, remember to be patient and stay focused. Your safety efforts on the road are bound to pay off.