Tips for safely sharing the road with large trucks in Massachusetts

Drivers can reduce their risk of involvement in truck crashes by paying more attention to speed, visibility, following distance and truck characteristics.

Many people in Franklin are used to driving alongside large trucks without giving much thought to the risk of accidents. Unfortunately, when these accidents do occur, they often have the worst ramifications for other drivers. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, trucks often outweigh passenger cars by factors of up to 30. Not surprisingly, the majority of the victims in deadly large truck crashes are other road users.

Although sharing the roads with trucks introduces certain inevitable risks, there are also steps that drivers can take to lower their likelihood of accident involvement. The following measures can all help drivers avoid risky situations that are often associated with large truck accidents.

Stay visible

Motorists should always remember that trucks have larger blind spots than other vehicles. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles offers the following tips for avoiding these blind spots:

  • Drivers can tell whether they are in a blind spot by looking for the trucker's face in the vehicle's mirrors. When drivers can't see the trucker, the trucker likely can't see them either.
  • Drivers should not pass on a truck's right side, where the largest blind spot falls. Additionally, when passing on the left side, drivers should do so quickly to minimize their time in a blind spot.
  • Drivers should be careful to avoid tailgating or cutting in close in front of a truck. Passing drivers should not move into a truck's lane until they can see the whole truck in their rearview mirrors.

The Texas DOT notes that leaving enough space when moving in front of a truck is especially important due to the weight differential between trucks and other vehicles. A truck may need twice as much distance to stop as a smaller vehicle. Drivers who cut in close in front of a truck may take away this needed safety margin.

Pay attention to speed

Drivers should also be alert to situations when trucks may be moving at significantly slower speeds than surrounding traffic. The Connecticut DOT reminds drivers that trucks need much more time than other cars to reach full speed when merging onto highways. When a truck is merging, drivers should vacate the right lane, if possible, and pay close attention to speed if they must enter the lane behind it. Drivers should also anticipate trucks slowing as they approach weigh stations.

Expect wide maneuvers

On smaller roads, trucks may move in counterintuitive ways when completing maneuvers such as turns. For example, a truck that is turning right may swing wide to the left to prevent the rear wheels from clipping the right curb. Drivers who misunderstand what is happening and try to pass the truck on the right may experience accidents, especially given the large right side blind spot.

Avoid tailgating

Following a large truck too closely can increase the risk of motor vehicle accidents in various ways. Motorists may be effectively blind to oncoming traffic or hazardous road conditions. Additionally, in the event of a collision, drivers may be vulnerable to under-ride accidents, which can lead to serious injuries.

Addressing accidents

Unfortunately, these measures can't guarantee protection against every accident. As a result, Massachusetts drivers should understand their rights in the event of truck crashes that involve negligence on the part of truckers. Speaking to an attorney about the possibility of obtaining compensation may be a beneficial starting point for anyone who has been harmed in one of these accidents.