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Drive Defensively To Avoid An 18-Wheeler Accident

Christine O'Kelly
Aug 14, 2008
Most of us think the driver of an 18-wheeler is a professional driver, and you'd be right most of the time. However, even if the semi truck driver follows all of the rules of road, there are other laws that come into play such as mechanics, physics and visibility, which apply differently to cars. In addition, although technically a professional driver, they may not be professional when it comes to road safety and courtesy. An 18-wheeler accident can result and most likely the car driver, not the trucker, will be injured or killed.

Do you drive defensively around an 18-wheeler truck? If not, you should! 18-wheeler safety should not be taken lightly. Considering the limitations of those vehicles, you need to drive defensively to avoid an 18-wheeler accident.

Tailgating Is Taboo

Tailgating is something that every driver has done in his or her lifetime -- but the worst place to do it is behind an 18-wheeler.

Even with many mirrors the truck driver can't see you. Another reason is that you can't see beyond the truck you're following. If the truck driver is forced to suddenly apply his brakes because a car veers into his lane, or for any other reason, guess who could become a pancake dripping off his mud flaps? Yes, the car tailgating behind him.

Stop, Stop, Stop

The law of physics comes into play when a 100,000-pound 18-wheeler has to come to a stop as quickly as possible. Even with air brakes, don't expect a semi truck to stop as readily as smaller cars going the same speed. The forward momentum is too great to allow the much heaver truck to stop, often resulting in an 18-wheeler accident.

If a fully loaded 18-wheeler is going 55 mph on flat, dry terrain, it will travel the length of a football field between braking and stopping. It's like an out of control missal shooting down road and if you're in the car ahead of this missal you may be involved in an 18-wheeler accident. If you're injured or even killed, then the services of a truck accident lawyer may be needed.

Wide Turns And Road Hazards

Wide turns are a given for 18-wheelers, it's a requirement because of the length of their vehicle. But even then, a truck may turn even more widely than necessary. Stay back and always be alert for truckers' turn signals and wide turns. After all, it's better to be safe than be involved in an 18-wheeler accident.

Another road hazard can be a sudden tire blowout. Those 18 tires take a heavy beating while carrying loads of up to 80,000 pounds. If a tire blows out, it can hurl slabs of rubber like a cannon. You don't want to be near such catastrophic missiles, keep a safe distance to avoid such an accident.

The above factors don't even take into account some semi truck drivers are simply bad drivers or rude. Just like car drivers, they may become distracted or impaired by drugs/alcohol, and if they are, their margin for error is even more reduced.

You should treat 18-wheelers differently than other vehicles on the road. You should always drive defensively, but even more so when you're around these large semi trucks.

That means use common sense -- no cell phone dialing, texting or attending to personal grooming. Also, don't get too close, whether you're behind, in front or beside a semi truck. If you decide to pass, do so promptly, don't linger along side where the truck driver's vision may be limited, resulting in an 18-wheeler accident.
About the Author
Christine O'Kelly is an author for 18-Wheeler Accident.org , an organization of legal representatives specializing in helping clients that have been involved in an 18-wheeler accident .
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