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4 tips to safely share Washington roads with large commercial trucks

Not all trucking accidents in Washington can be prevented, but taking certain precautions may help drivers protect themselves when sharing the road.

Each day, drivers in the state of Washington, as well as throughout the U.S., share the streets and highways with commercial trucks. Unfortunately, however, collisions involving passenger vehicles and these large vehicles are all too common. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports there were roughly 475,000 trucking accidents across the country in 2016 alone. Due to the size difference between tractor-trailers and passenger cars and trucks, these collisions often result in serious injuries or death for the occupants of the smaller vehicles. Although not all such wrecks are preventable, there are steps that drivers can take when sharing the road with large trucks to help improve their safety.

Watch out for the blind spots

Large trucks, like smaller, passenger vehicles, have blind spots. However, due to their large size, tractor-trailers' blind spots may extend up to 20 feet in front of them, 30 feet behind them and along both sides. While people are traveling in these areas, or no zones as they are often referred, the truck operators might not be able to see their vehicles. Therefore, it is recommended that motorists avoid driving in large trucks' blind spots whenever possible. Should they have to enter the no zones, drivers are advised to avoid lingering and move through them as quickly as they can to help prevent potentially serious trucking collisions.

Avoid cutting trucks off

As compared to passenger cars and trucks, large commercial vehicles need more time and space to slow and stop. When fully loaded, it can take tractor-trailers that are traveling at 55 mph up to 450 feet to come to a safe and complete stop in good conditions. Drivers should keep this in mind when sharing the road with semi-trucks and help maintain a safe distance between these vehicles and their own.

Practice safe passing

Due to their size and maneuverability limitations, passing tractor-trailers may be particularly hazardous for drivers. Motorists should clearly signal their intentions and make purposeful movements to complete the pass safely and promptly. It is important that drivers make certain they have plenty of clear road to the sides and in front of them before attempting to pass large commercial trucks. This may help them avoid having to suddenly stop or slow upon moving in front of semi-trailers, which may aid in preventing potentially serious or fatal rear-end collisions.

Allow extra space

At 55 feet, large commercial trucks and buses have a much larger turning radius than smaller vehicles. Additionally, their cabs and trailers may pass through different tracks when making turns. Drivers should be aware of this and anticipate these vehicles having to start a turn from a middle lane or swing wide to the other side in order to maneuver the turn safely. It is also advisable for motorists to refrain from attempting to squeeze past a turning truck or get between semi-trailers and the curb.

Obtaining legal guidance

When people in Washington and elsewhere are involved in trucking collisions, they may suffer serious injuries that necessitate significant medical treatment, as well as extended time away from work to recover. As such, they may be faced with undue medical bills and lost income, in addition to their physical and emotional pain and suffering. Depending on the circumstances, however, the truckers responsible for such accidents may be held financially liable. Those who have been injured as a result of large commercial truck crashes may benefit from discussing their rights and options for seeking financial compensation with a legal representative.