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Defensive Driving Techniques for Dealing With Commercial Trucks

Defensive Driving Around Large Commercial Trucks

More than 4,400 large commercial trucks are involved in fatal accidents each year, and the trend has been an increase in those numbers of more than 2 percent annually. Understandably, much of the media focus is on the professional drivers: their training, their fatigue levels, their safety protocols and so forth. Nevertheless, all drivers on the road have to protect themselves, and even when they aren’t at fault in an accident, there may be precautions or measures they could have taken to avoid the incident. Defensive driving around large commercial trucks is something all drivers need to know.

Risks Associated With Large Trucks on the Road

The 18-wheelers and other large trucks that drive our roads are big, and they’re only getting bigger as companies seek ways to transport more goods faster in a cost-effective manner. An experienced Allentown truck accident attorney would tell you that the sheer size of these vehicles creates risks for all drivers and passengers in their vicinity. The factors that should be considered include:
  • Reduced visibility
  • Limited driving area
  • Possible driver fatigue
  • Long braking distances
  • Rocks and other debris kicked up
  • Driver inexperience due to commercial demand

Defensive Driving

Nearly any Allentown truck accident attorney will agree that professional drivers and the companies that employ them could probably do a better job of mitigating these risks. All the same, there are defensive techniques that we can use to protect ourselves from these dangers. Many defensive driving strategies apply generally whenever operating a vehicle on the road. These include:
  • Limiting distractions
  • Adhering to the speed limit
  • Maintaining focus and alertness
  • Knowing your avoidance strategy
  • Maintaining situational awareness
  • Using turn signals and other indicators
  • Adjusting speed based on weather conditions
Defensive driving around large commercial trucksRespect the difficulty of professional driving and the challenges that these drivers face. Strategies as simple as maintaining a safe distance and using your signals can make their job a lot easier and your car a lot safer. Some defensive driving techniques specific to large trucks include:
  • Passing quickly
  • Avoiding blind spots
  • Providing plenty of space
  • Closely watching the signals of others
  • Slowing down rather than speeding up

Responding to Lane Encroachment

Many of the accidents caused by a driver operating a large truck involve lane encroachment. This is when you’re in your own lane minding your own business and a truck moves into that space. Be aware of large vehicles at your sides. Don’t remain parallel with them if an alternative is possible. If a truck does encroach on your lane, slow down. Instinct is often to speed up, but that actually increases the likelihood of a collision.

Never Cut Off a Large Truck

Don’t be just a defensive driver; be a respectful one. If possible, avoid cutting off anyone, but be particularly aware of the dangers when it comes to interfering with large trucks. The regular passenger vehicles that people use to commute can stop quickly, and many of the modern ones even have computers to ensure that they do. Large trucks take time to brake, and if you cut one off, you put both vehicles at significant risk of a collision.

Alcohol and Substance Abuse

Accidents in which the operator of a large truck was intoxicated or affected by narcotics often become high-profile news stories. It can create the impression that these incidents are commonplace, but that isn’t usually the case. In fact, alcohol and drugs play a role in less than 2 percent of all accidents involving commercial trucks each year. With that said, if you witness an erratic driver operating a large commercial vehicle, maintain a safe distance. When it is safe to do so, park in an appropriate area and contact the police. A license number is helpful, but even if you lack that information, the road and path traveled could be enough for them to investigate.

Take Advantage of Driver Hotlines

If a commercial driver operating a large truck is behaving poorly or erratically but not to the degree that calling the police is warranted, consider contacting any hotlines advertised on the vehicle. You’ll often see signage that says, “How's My Driving?” along with a number you can call to report incidents.

Contact Police When Appropriate

Only call 911 if your life is in danger. Otherwise, contact the police via a non-emergency number. Provide them with all the details you know. If you have a dashboard camera, inform the police and save that footage so they can review it if they choose to.

Consider Retaining an Attorney

You don’t necessarily have to be involved in a crash to need the services of an Allentown truck accident attorney. You may experience property damage, for instance, when a pebble or other debris strikes your windshield. Get the license plate number and write down any other pertinent details such as the location and the time of day of the occurrence, the name of the truck company and any visible branding.

Reach Out Today

If you’ve been in an accident involving a commercial truck, Metzger & Kleiner would welcome the opportunity to consider your case and provide you with professional recommendations. Our law firm has been representing clients in such matters for more than 40 years. We focus on personal injury law in the state of Pennsylvania, so take a moment and reach out today. Call our office in the Lehigh Valley at (610) 435-7400. If you find it more convenient, you can reach us through email.

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