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Roadway Safety Around Big Rigs

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January 08, 2018
Edward Smith


Roadway Safety Around Big Rigs

I’m Ed Smith, a North Highlands truck accident lawyer. Big trucks are commonly used in California to transport goods, so it isn’t unusual for the driver of a motor vehicle to pass many of them when traveling. Being familiar with safety measures to avoid accidents with big rigs is important for all drivers to get to their destinations safely.

Big Rigs Crashes

Buses and big rigs were involved in 4,311 crashes that resulted in fatalities in 2015, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. This represents an increase of 8-percent over the previous year. The California Highway Patrol has reported the latest information on truck accident injuries and fatalities for 2013. That year, 278 fatalities occurred along with 7,511 injuries from collisions with big rigs. Five fatalities and 178 injuries due to collisions with big trucks were reported by the CHP in Sacramento County.

Trucks Aren’t Just Bigger Versions of Cars

Since most people drive some type of motor vehicle, they assume that a big rig is just a larger version. It isn’t. Following are some of the problems faced by drivers of large trucks on the road:

  • Blind spots: These “no zone” areas basically surround a big rig. The driver, who is sitting up high, does not have a clear view directly in front or in back. In addition, there are large blind spots on both sides of the much larger vehicle, particularly on the right side. The blind spots on the side of a big rig may be most of the length of the truck and encompass multiple lanes on the right.
  • Slowing down and stopping: The California Department of Transportation reports that a big rig can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. This means that one of these vehicles cannot slow down quickly without risking a jackknife or rollover accident. It also can’t stop quickly.
  • Big rigs have to swing wide at times: According to Caltrans, big rigs are not permitted to exceed 75 feet in length in the state. This means that when a big rig makes a tight turn or goes around a tight curve, it may have to swing wide to do so.
  • Trucks have to slow down for steep grades: Motor vehicles pick up speed on steep grades, so do big rigs. To maintain control of the vehicle and its immense weight, they have to slow down on the downgrade, sometimes drastically. Otherwise, trying to slow a rig down suddenly can cause the brakes on a rig to smoke and even catch on fire.

How Drivers Can Stay Safe Near a Big Rig

The best way to stay safe when passing or driving near a big rig is to give it a wide berth and exercise caution.

  • Don’t tailgate: This can cause an accident when following another vehicle. It can be deadly behind a big rig by causing an underride accident if the truck has to slow or stop suddenly.
  • Never pass on the right: This is the largest no-zone area of a big truck. The driver can’t see smaller vehicles passing on the right, so passing is a bad idea. If a truck driver has to take evasive action, it will most likely be to the right side, directly into your vehicle.
  • Don’t pace a big rig: The reason for this is, the driver of a motor vehicle is most likely driving on the left side of the trucker. The truck driver may not see the vehicle since this is a blind spot.
  • Don’t cut off a big rig: This is a dangerous maneuver with any vehicle. However, cutting off a big rig can be deadly and cause a multiple vehicle crash.
  • Don’t assume the driver can see you: Everyone has probably heard that if the driver of a motor vehicle can see the big rig driver in his/her side mirror, they can see you. Don’t assume this is true.

North Highlands Truck Accident Lawyer

I’m Edward Smith, a North Highlands truck accident lawyer. If you or a family member has suffered an injury due to a collision with a big rig, you may need an experienced injury lawyer. Call me for free and friendly advice at (916) 921-6400. The toll-free number is (800) 404-5400. You can reach me via a contact form by logging on to my website,

For over three decades, I have represented injury victims in North Highlands and around Northern California in cases involving traumatic injuries such as brain injury and in wrongful death cases.

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I’m a Million Dollar Advocate member from California. Membership is limited to those who have obtained at least $1 million for clients in verdicts or settlements.

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