Safe driving tips: Sharing Pennsylvania roads with large trucks

Some trucking accidents may be avoided if drivers understand the limitations of large trucks and avoid unsafe situations while on the road.

Every day, people in Pittsburgh, and throughout Pennsylvania, share the streets and highways with tractor-trailers, and other commercial vehicles. Unfortunately, collisions commonly occur involving large trucks and other vehicles. In fact, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation reports that there were more than 6,500 heavy truck crashes in 2014 alone. Often, such wrecks result in serious injuries, or death, for the drivers and passengers of the other vehicles. Not all truck accidents are preventable, but there are things people can do to help safely share the road with truckers.

Avoid panic and aggression

When on the road with semitrailers, some drivers may become nervous and panic, while others may feel the need to drive more aggressively. Both of these reactions can be dangerous for motorists, however, and should be avoided. Instead, people are advised to remain calm and continue driving with the flow of traffic. This may help truckers to anticipate the flow of traffic, and prevents them having to react suddenly to drivers' erratic reactions.

Recognize the stopping ability of large trucks

In general, commercial trucks require longer distances than other vehicles to stop safely. The average semitrailer requires the length of a football field to stop fully if it is traveling 55 mph, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Therefore, it is recommended that drivers avoid braking suddenly in front of tractor-trailers, unless necessary. People are also advised not to cut in front of these large trucks.

Allow a safety cushion

In addition to needing more stopping distance, semitrailers also commonly need more room to maneuver. For example, a commercial truck may have to swing wide left in order to make a safe right-hand turn. Consequently, it is a good idea for drivers to allow large trucks a wider berth. This may help avoid some 18-wheeler collisions, particularly those that occur when motorists try to squeeze past these types of large vehicles.

Know the no zones

Much like other automobiles, tractor-trailers also have blind spots. However, these areas tend to be much larger on these types of vehicles than on others. Commonly referred to as no zones, it is advisable for motorists to stay out of these areas on both sides, in the front and in the rear, of semitrailers, and other large trucks. When following commercial trucks, the Just Drive PA website recommends that drivers stay far enough back that the truckers can see them in their rear-view mirrors. Motorists who are traveling in front of tractor-trailers should be able to see the truck's front tires in their rear-view mirrors.

Consult with an attorney

When Pennsylvania drivers are involved in trucking collisions, they frequently require extensive medical treatment and care. Often, this translates into damages, such as lost wages and undue medical expenses. In cases when such accidents are the result of negligence or carelessness on the part of the truckers, or trucking companies, they may be held financially responsible. As such, those who have experienced situations such as this may consider discussing their case with a legal representative to understand their rights and options.