What Should You Do When Driving Behind a Semi Truck?

driving behind a semi truck on a highway
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Driving behind a semi truck can be dangerous. If the truck driver brakes unexpectedly or loses control, you can suddenly find yourself with no way to avoid a serious accident.

While you may be entitled to financial compensation for losses sustained in a truck accident, coping with the effects of serious traumatic injuries is something you want to avoid if at all possible.

If you find yourself driving behind a semi truck, there are some safety tips you will want to keep in mind. Here is an overview of what to do (and what not to do) when you are sharing the road with a semi truck in Houston:

What to Do When Driving Behind a Semi Truck

1. Make Sure You Can See the Truck’s Mirrors

If you can’t see the truck’s mirrors, the truck driver can’t see you. To stay visible to the driver of an 18-wheeler, make sure you maintain adequate distance between your vehicle and the truck. If you are driving in a wide lane, you can also drive closer to the left side of the lane so that your vehicle is more directly behind the sideview mirror on the driver’s side of the rig.

2. Pay Attention

Driving behind a semi truck is not a time to get distracted. It is never safe to be distracted behind the wheel, but distractions can be especially dangerous when you are in the vicinity of a large commercial truck.

The Texas Department of Transportation recorded 80,451 distracted driver crashes in 2020 (the most recent year of data). A total of 327 of these accidents resulted in fatalities and nearly 24,000 resulted in some degree of injury. To help protect yourself, your passengers, and other motorists around you, leave your phone alone and devote your full attention to the task at hand.

Read More: Houston Car Accident Statistics

3. Pass When It Is Safe (and Legal) to Do So

Most drivers do not want to travel behind a semi truck for long. Not only is it inconvenient, but many motorists feel uncomfortable being in close proximity to such large and heavy vehicles.

No matter how much you want to put some distance between your vehicle and the semi, however, you should only try to pass when conditions are right. Before passing, make sure you have room to get over (you should generally pass on the left unless the truck driver is occupying the leftmost lane), turn on your indicator, and then move into the adjacent lane without getting too close to the rear of the truck.

What Not to Do When Driving Behind a Semi Truck

1. Do Not Tailgate the Truck

Under no circumstances should you follow a semi truck too closely. If the truck stops suddenly, you might not have enough time to react in order to avoid a collision. Additionally, if you are so close that the truck driver can’t see you, the driver might handle emergency situations differently than if he or she knew you were there.

Even if the semi truck is going below the speed limit or driving in the left lane when it should get over to the right, these are not reasons to put yourself in a dangerous situation. Stay calm, remain patient, and follow the rules of the road for safe and legal passing.

2. Do Not Assume the Truck’s Brake Lights and Turn Signals Work

According to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, more than 10 percent of all commercial truck inspection violations involve an “inoperable required lamp.” In other words, more than one in 10 semi trucks have a brake light, turn signal, or other light that doesn’t work.

With this in mind, when driving behind a semi truck, you should not rely solely on the truck’s lights to understand what the truck driver is doing behind the wheel. Leave plenty of distance, pay attention, and be prepared to brake if the truck slows down or begins to swerve.

3. Do Not Make the Situation More Dangerous for Yourself or Others

When driving behind a semi truck, the last thing you want to do is create additional risks for the truck driver, other motorists, and yourself. As such, you should avoid driving aggressively and follow the rules of the road. Don’t merge into the adjacent lane without enough room to do so, and don’t cut off the truck driver once you get past.

Of course, in some situations you won’t be able to get out from behind a semi truck, and there won’t be anything you can do to protect yourself from being involved in an accident. If this happens, you should seek medical treatment right away (take an ambulance from the scene of the accident if necessary). Next, you should speak with a Houston truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.

Learn How Patrick Daniel Law Can Help

Patrick Daniel Law has extensive experience handling truck accident claims. Founder and managing partner Patrick Daniel is recognized as a top attorney in the area of high-stakes trucking accident litigation.

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If you or someone you love has been involved in a Houston truck accident, contact Patrick Daniel Law at (713) 999-6666 today for a free case review. Our truck accident lawyer serves clients throughout Houston, all of Texas, and nationwide.

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