Defensive Driving Techniques When Driving Around Trucks

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The Washington State Traffic Safety Commission reports that there were 20 serious injury heavy truck accidents in King County in 2012. While a truck driver's negligent actions might make it impossible to avoid an accident, proper driving around semi-trucks may reduce the risk of an accident.

There are many techniques for defensive driving around these vehicles. Additionally, in the event of an accident, motorists have legal rights to pursue fair compensation.

Why Semi-Trucks are Dangerous

One of the biggest dangers driving around semi-trucks is the weight differential. Semi-trucks can weigh up to 80,000 lbs when fully loaded, while most cars weigh significantly less. This makes any collisions between the truck and car potentially life threatening for the car's driver.

Some of the common causes of trucking accidents include:

  • driver fatigue;
  • poor driver training;
  • speeding;
  • overloaded trucks;
  • brake failure;
  • right-of-way violations;
  • driving under the influence;
  • mechanical failures; and
  • defective parts.


How to Drive Around Trucks

One of the first things drivers can do to be safe around semi-trucks is to have a good attitude. Staying calm and being careful is important for good driving. Drivers should also avoid road rage when driving around large trucks as well.

Stopping distance is another important thing to consider around big rigs. It can take a heavy truck much longer than a passenger vehicle to come to a complete stop. Drivers should leave ample space between the car and truck when they merge into the truck's lane. If possible, a driver shouldn't slam on their brakes when a truck is behind them.

Also, tractor-trailers have more blind spots than a passenger vehicle and it may be hard to determine where these begin and end as you drive by. The general rule of thumb is that if you cannot see the truck's mirrors, then the truck driver cannot see your vehicle in the mirror.

There are blind spots on both sides of the truck and immediately behind and in front of the truck. Drivers should pass a truck quickly and not linger in any of the blind spots to avoid accidents.

Large trucks make wide right turns too. Drivers passing a truck on the left while the truck is making a right turn should be aware that the truck may move into their lane to make the turn. Trucks are also susceptible to high winds and may drift into another lane as a result so drivers should be aware and cautious when passing a truck.

What to Do if You're in a Truck Accident

You should seek medical attention immediately after an accident. If you are able, gather the:

  • name;
  • phone number;
  • trucking company name; and
  • insurance policy number from the truck driver.


Make sure to get contact information for any accident witnesses. Trucking accidents are often complicated matters. There are many different actors in the trucking industry. Depending on the facts of the accident, multiple parties may hold some responsibility.

If your injuries were severe or if you're having trouble obtaining compensation for a truck accident, contact an attorney. Attorneys are better able to handle insurers and can prepare your legal case in the event it becomes necessary.

The Max Meyers Law Firm will help you find fair compensation in your truck accident case. Call our office at 425-399-7000 to schedule a free consultation today.

Max Meyers
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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.